Maple Syrup the Old Fashioned Way – Experience Fair Lawn Farms and Duff’s Sugar House

Walking into Tim Duff’s sugar house ignites all of your senses. You both feel and smell the steam rising off the boiling pan. Everything is sticky, even the air, full of that sweet gift from nature to Highland County. And throughout this entire interview, you’ll hear the fire crackling – a sure sign that production is going great in the sugar house.


For Duff, owner of Fair Lawn Farm and Duff’s Sugar House, this sensory experience is what makes visiting the maple sugar operations around the county the highlight of Maple Festival.


“We let the kids feed our fire. Parents, or the kids, can skim the foam. We have people going up the ladders to check the depth of the tank. It’s a very, very interactive tour,” said Duff. “We go through everything from why we do what we do and how we do it, as opposed to the more modern camps. We go through buckets versus tubing. We go through the lack of reverse osmosis, because we don’t use that here. We go through how we jack our water, which is a freezing technique that will increase your sugar content. So what the big guys are doing with reverse osmosis, we do with mother nature.”


Doing things the old fashioned way, is what sets the Duffs apart from other sugar camps in the area. They aren’t a large producer because the process takes longer, but sticking with the 18th century tools and techniques, allows Duff to produce a full-bodied syrup with a buttery flavor.


“This was a working farm from the 1880s through the 1950s. I prefer to do whatever job we’re doing with antique tools, even though it takes longer. I’d rather really learn the tool and have the tool do the work. I’d rather use a basic hand tool, take my time, I’ll get the same result.”


Duff’s Sugar House at Fair Lawn Farm located at 3118 Mill Gap Road will be open every day of Maple Festival from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They also welcome tours during the week if people want to stop by and avoid the crowds.

Story By


Brit Chambers

Brit Chambers is a resident of Highland County, Virginia and a news reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio. She loves living in a small town and relishes the outdoor adventures and community feeling that Highland has to offer. Brit has a background in journalism, marketing, and public relations and spends her free time reading good books, baking sourdough bread, and hiking with her family.

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