Vt. man to plant sugarbush on Hartland farm
HARTLAND, Vt.—A Vermont man who once went to the Vermont Supreme Court to be able to move a graveyard on a scenic property in the town of Hartland now wants to turn the area into a maple syrup producing area.
Last month, Michel Guite planted about 2,250 maple saplings around much of the perimeter of the property that runs along Town Hill Farm and Brownsville roads in Hartland. The property is now enrolled in a program that gives tax breaks to agricultural and forest land.
The new trees are planted near where he plans to relocate the cemetery along Town Hill Farm Road.
"One concept is to see whether we can develop a really good-quality maple syrup that people will like and will be a long-term investment in the property," Guite told the Valley News.
He said he and his family have no immediate plans to build a home in Hartland. Guite, the president of the telecommunications company VTel, has homes in Springfield and Greenwich, Conn.
The trees planted by Guite were provided by Cornell University's Sugar Maple Research and Extension Field Station in Lake Placid, N.Y. They are part of a long-running program first started by the U.S. Forest Service in the 1950s to identify the sweetest maples, said program director Michael Farrell.
The trees grew to saplings at a nursery in Dryden, N.Y. They are expected to be ready for tapping in 15 years as opposed to 25 to 30 years, Farrell said.
Guite bought the Hartland property in 2008 for $2 million. In June he won a three-year legal battle when the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that heirs of the Aldrich family, with whom he was allied, had exclusive rights to the small cemetery on the land. Guite subsequently hired a University of Vermont archaeology team to exhume the graves, and about 10 bodies were removed in late August and early September.
The cemetery site sits on a high point of the property and has broad views of the