I wrote the following article for our local paper. This is a great young family starting out as local farmers.
Drive down any back road in town and your bound to find at least one farm, but drive down Loudon Ridge Road and you’ll pass many including the newer Ridgeland Farm.
Started by longtime town residents Stefan and Stacey Lillios, Ridgeland Farm is their new adventure together. Currently their focus is on maple syrup and pigs.
Stefan was kind enough to give me a private tour of his new (to him) maple processing set up. Sap feeds from a pan to a series of pipes suspended inside the evaporator, which preheats the sap that has already had some of the water content removed through reverse osmosis. As the sap heats, it moves through the system getting hotter as it goes. The more it heats the more it thickens and so the process goes until it feeds into the syrup pans where it is tested for readiness, filtered and either bottled directly or stored in drums to be bottled later.
A new grading system is in place this year and Stefan was happy to share with me the difference in syrup.
“The darker grade is good for cooking while the lighter is typically used for candies and sugar.” He explained.
I asked Stefan how he got into the maple syrup business.
“Boredom.” He replies with a boyish grin.
Back in 2007 or so, Stefan started with about ten taps and boiled on a small burner. The boiling took all day, so Stefan hooked up with family friends, the Moore’s, and started helping them on their farm and boiling his sap there. This year his goal is to reach a thousand gallons on his own equipment with 2,500 taps.
In addition to maple syrup, Stefan raises pigs. In fact, he will raise a pig for you. He currently has two pigs he is raising for customers and once they hit maturity, they will be processed and packaged. This is a great resource for those who want fresh pork but don’t have the means to raise a pig on their own.
“We’re going to have some milking goats. Just for us.” Stefan explains. He and Stacey are adding Nubians to their farm. “We tried chickens at one point, but decided washing all those eggs just wasn’t for me.” He chuckles.
In talking with Stefan, it was clear that this young man is excited about his farm and the future it holds. There was a sense of pride as he spoke about his syrup making system and the pigs he is raising including a boar and sow he plans to keep and breed. He embodies the future of farming; young families starting out and finding what not only excites them, but also what works best for them
This is exactly the type of entrepreneurial spirit that embodies the Loudon Agricultural Commission and why we support local farmers.
You can contact Ridgeland Farm at (603) 520-4337 or visit their website at http://www.ridgelandfarmnh.com. Or find them on the new Loudon Farm Map (they are number thirteen). Stop by and ask for your own tour of the maple process and don’t forget to ask about his pigs. (Mmm, can you say maple-cured bacon?)
If you or someone you know would like to be highlighted as one of our featured farms, please contact Cindy Shea at email@example.com.