Though the corporate life can be its own reward, it never felt that way to David Howe. Through all the corporate postings and challenging assignments in New York, London, Paris, or Tokyo, he always felt the pull of country life. He says, “Whether it was weekends in the country, or a quick lunch at a city-center book store reading stories of rural life, or studying which breed of dog is the best for hunting (Braque Français to be sure!), life in the city was leading us to Elm Brook Farm.”
Elm Brook Farm is an idyllic end-of-the-road spot, a dream made real. The farm’s 519+/- acres are threaded by its trout stream that cascades through the forest into open meadows, past ancient apple trees and the farmstead. David got to work reclaiming the farm’s pasture, tending the orchards, experimenting with cold weather grapes, and learning about maple sugaring. 13,000 maple taps now generate $70,000 to $100,000 per year just by selling the sap. How’s that for a sustainable investment! But never one for conventional thinking, David mused on the possibilities for the maple sugar beyond simply syrup.
“There’s an history and tradition of Vermonters in maple sugar making that we wanted to build upon. As it turns out the flavorful chemistry of maple sugar allows it to be turned into some of the finest spirits in the world,” David notes. “The wonderfully pure and flavorful maple sugar is the only ingredient in Elm Brook Farm’s two fine Spirits—Literary Dog Vodka and Rail Dog. Literary Dog is the only vodka in the world distilled 23 times to make an ultra-smooth spirit that is both subtlety-creamy and sweet. Rail Dog is a first of its kind, aged, maple spirit, a rich sipping experience that rests on your palette somewhere between cognac and whiskey.
At Elm Brook Farm, David was able to link stewardship of the land with a sustainable business model that integrated easily into the local farm community. David says, “Our objective for Elm Brook Farm was to find an innovative way to help rural communities and society in general understand and value the natural, cultural and economic aspects of Vermont’s farms and woodlands. We’re part of the movement among local communities that use the natural resources of Vermont in a sustainable and ethical manner.”
After years of experience in working with the land, they are ready to turn the stewardship of Elm Brook Farm over to the next owner –who knows what alchemy they will discover?