Skip to main content

Mud City Farm Increases its Viability by Diversifying into Maple

March 22, 2024

In 2019, Kari Anderson and Chris Redder purchased 180 acres of conserved farmland in Morrisville. Once a dairy farm, the land had been defunct for over 30 years. The husband-and-wife team began the arduous process of restoring it and shifting their idea of what defines meaningful work. 

“We like being here on land and have claimed allegiance to that,” Redder explained.  

Their homage to the land, Mud City Farm, was unofficially born in 2015 when they began renting the land they now own from the Lepine family, restoring the fields, and putting up greenhouses for flowers and vegetables. Their flower farm, Pistil Production, provides wholesale flowers for weddings and events across New England. Over the last several years, they’ve planted hundreds of Christmas trees to add to their operation. Now, they’re gearing up to get into the maple industry. 

“We’re just trying to take a step back, be stewards, [and] take care of ourselves,” Redder said of the couple’s journey from working for other people most of their lives to owning their own business and restoring their historic farm. 
Their next step is restoring a once-productive sugarbush on their land to capture one of Vermont’s most prized harvests – sap for maple syrup. The couple says adding multiple revenue streams to their farm is a way to safeguard themselves against market volatility, whether from climate change or a pandemic. Plus, as a young, first-generation farm, it brings them closer to financial freedom.

Kari Anderson and Chris Redder stand outside in a field

“We have debt and a mortgage, and this is a revenue stream that contributes to it, and in three to five years, the capital investment will have a return; it’s a way for us to connect with our property and make some income,” Redder said of the maple operation.

Both have worked for larger sugaring operations and will begin by selling sap to nearby maple producers. 

“We want to boil eventually, but right now, the barrier to entry into that was just too big,” Redder said. 

They expect the sap sales will increase Mud City’s annual gross sales by 65 percent from $35,000 to $58,000 and allow them to create a part-time job, with more potential if they can make syrup eventually. 

“We're taking steps to become a more mature business,” Redder said.

A coil roll of sap lines in the foreground. Chris and Kari walk into a building in the snow in the background.

Redder will complete the installation of 4,000 taps, tubing, and other sap collection equipment in the spring of 2024. It was made possible partly by a $78,000 grant from the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative. 

“It essentially cut the cost of the project in half,” Redder said, “It allowed us to hire a little bit of the work out and created a higher percentage of success that we can get it done in the spring to see the benefits sooner.”

Phase one of the project was completed in 2023 and included removing a decaying plastic tubing system discarded in the woods with spouts, nails, and wire left in trees, as well as restoring trails and access roads. They say the work is rewarding as they watch their land and lives transform.

“It's a lifelong adventure,” Anderson said, “And it's fun.”