Greg Moore knows what he knows and knows what he doesn’t know. What he knows is maple sugaring. What he doesn’t know is business. Through a University of Vermont Extension program, however, his business skills are getting a jump start, but Greg already has an advantage on the next generation of competition because he’s still only 15 years old.
“I’ve been sugaring for seven years,” he said.“I started when I was eight with just a pot and 10 taps. I loved it, and I don’t think I’m ever going to stop. I have quite a passion for it.”
Greg doesn’t seem to be aware of how amazing it is for someone his age to already have so much hands-on experience making maple syrup, and if he is, he doesn’t show it. He already carries himself with the swagger of a tried-and-true Vermonter, someone whose been thar’, done that.
Homeschooled and in 10th grade, Greg lives in a cozy log cabin in a quiet neck of the woods in North Danville with his father Tom and mother Vicki. Tom works in construction for S.D. Ireland. Vicki is a sales representative for The North Star Monthly. The Moores exude that quintessential Vermont country living, complete with their family dog, two cats, chickens, and about 10 acres of wooded property.
Greg said there aren’t many trees on their land to tap, but they have some generous neighbors, Shaun Somers and Chip Langmaid, who let him sugar on their land.
“Last year I had about 250 taps, and I hope to do about 300 this year,” Greg said.
Greg balances his schoolwork and his blooming maple sugar business quite well. A typical day finds him up early and hitting the books for a couple hours before heading out into the woods to begin sugaring—be it setting up his lines, tapping trees, or, when spring arrives, boiling sap.
“When sugaring time does come we let that take top priority,” Vicki said.“But we push the school work pretty hard before that time to make sure he gets it all done.”
Still, it’s not uncommon to find Greg doing his schoolwork as he boils, out in the sugarhouse that his dad built for him back in 2009.
Greg said he got started sugaring with the help of three of his uncles who introduced him to it when he was eight years old. He said they’ve also been essential in helping him get his enterprise on its feet by providing him with some buckets and pipeline.
“I never would’ve been able to get it all going if not for them,” he said.
As part of the next generation of sugar makers, Greg said one of the biggest challenges is knowing what new equipment is worth investing in. Money is scarce for him at the moment, and he is still learning about the more professional aspects of the business, but he said he’s trying hard to make wise investments.
Greg has received a helping hand from a University of Vermont Extension program called IDA (Individual Development Account). It is, essentially, a savings account, except money in an IDA is matched with program dollars at a rate of 2:1. With a $500 ceiling participants could potentially earn $1,500 to be used for a business asset purchase.
Greg’s one year is up in April. He said he has $1,500 in his IDA and plans to put it toward the purchase of a truck.
During the year-long program, participants get structured financial literacy training, business management coaching, mentoring from farm business management specialists and established farmers, all with the aim of helping them develop a business plan.
“The IDA program has taught me business management,” Greg said,“and how to run my business as economically as possible. A truck will help me distribute my maple syrup to local retailers and bulk syrup buyers. I could also use a truck for gathering sap.”
The UVM IDA program is for youth ages 14 to 21 that are engaged or interested in agriculture, and it favors—though is not limited to—young farmers who have limited resources, social disadvantages, or are considered“at-risk,” according to the program brochure.
Greg said the IDA program has been a good push in the right direction for him.“They really help you out,” he said.“They really get behind you and help you get your feet under you.”
“It’s been amazing to see this journey that began as a family effort, and to see it become his business venture,” said Vicki.
When he’s not making maple syrup, Greg also enjoys hunting, mountain biking, and downhill skiing. He’s also been making and selling Christmas wreaths for years.
“He’s always been quite the little entrepreneur,” said Vicki.
“My three older sisters have been a huge help to me over the years,” Greg adds.
To find out when Greg’s next batch of maple syrup is ready call Moore Maple at 748-2655.