Seacoast Eat Local staff recently visited Giff Burnap, owner and operator of Butternut Farm in Farmington. The staff was eager to check out the ever-expanding PYO operation as well as the newly developed line of hard ciders, straight from apples grown on the farm!
In the past year, Giff and his team built a new farm building with a commercial kitchen and basement cider brewing operation. The building is licensed to sell alcohol and has three taps that connect directly to basement hold tanks for the various cider varieties. The commercial kitchen is where many other value added products like fruit pies and a cider donuts are produced for sale to the public during the PYO season from June-November.
Giff’s excitement for the cider is truly evident in speaking to him. SEL staff were thrilled to hear how Giff originally
got into cider-making— he was inspired by our friends at North Country Cider in Rollinsford! According to Giff, he had tried many ciders, but frankly did find them to taste good. Then, he tried North Country’s ciders and was ‘inspired by their methods and products.’ That was the start of a home cider hobby that eventually led to a significant value added operation as part of the Butternut Farm business. This year, the Butternut Farm team produced 1400 gallons of cider and are on track to double that amount next year. Cider is sold on site only, and is only available in growler sizes. Part of the reasoning behind this is for ease– less overhead, transportation, bottling and shipping. However, Giff also seeks to maintain a top quality product, which he feels is currently best achieved with this sales strategy. All the apples in the ciders come right from the farm. Giff is beginning to focus in on specific varieties of apples with higher sugar content so that he can work towards the goal of cider- making with only yeast and apples (a small amount of sugar is currently used). For the record, this cider has the SEL seal of delicious approval!
Of course, fruit farming is Giff’s first passion and the picking opportunities at Butternut Farm are no joke! They have a berry hotline which is updated daily with the latest picking conditions and prices. Butternut Farm has enormous variety of fruits on hand– all manner of strawberries, cherries, peaches, plums, raspberries, blueberries, apples, pumpkins and even tomatoes. In remaining a PYO operation, Giff and the team can focus solely on ‘growing the fruit’ and ‘creating a quality, emotional experience for visiting families.’ The number of parents and grandparents with young children confirms Giff’s thoughts– his farm is truly a family affair for everyone involved.
For more information, visit http://www.butternutfarm.net/