For Tim and Terry Duff, farming is about preserving an important tradition. At Duff’s Sugar House at Fair Lawn Farm, they use sugaring techniques dating back as far as the 19th century. “There are quicker ways to do things, but you lose tradition,” explains Tim. Visitors to the farm like to see these traditions still in action.
The Duffs moved to Highland from Gloucester County, VA in 1999; after getting lost on a drive one day and finding themselves in Highland, they decided it was the place for them. Tim saw great potential in the maple trees on his new property, and since he’d tapped trees growing up, he wanted to return to that tradition.
Their sugaring operation is small, with just Tim and Terry working to produce maple syrup, but with about 150 taps, they’re able to make between 32-36 gallons of syrup each year, weather permitting. To collect the maple water, Tim and Terry use metal buckets and a variety of spiles, both metal and wooden. The pan they boil in is from the 1930’s, and all of their sugaring materials have been reclaimed from or gifted by other syrup producers.
Tim and Terry stay busy year-round, sharing their 50-acre farm with many different community members and groups. They enlist the help of neighbors and friends to make apple butter and cider in the fall, welcome students from the local school for “pick your own pumpkins,” and host plenty of local fishing and hunting events. Terry also keeps sheep—they have 13 ewes this year—and she is the Special Education teacher for the Highland Middle and High Schools. Tim served as the Sherriff of Highland County, but he is now enjoying his third attempt at retirement.
The Duffs have big plans for the future of their farm—they are planning on reconstructing three log cabins in the back of the property and opening them to the public for colonial craft seminars, and they currently host retreats through the Special-Ops Wounded Warrior Project.
Their syrup and apple butter are available during Maple Festival and Hands and Harvest Festival, but it goes quickly, so be sure to stop by early to try some! For more information, contact the Duffs at the number below.
Tim and Terry Duff
Duff’s Sugar House at Fair Lawn Farm