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Vermont Maple Syrup Farm Launching Park Slope Retail Shop

By Leslie Albrecht | December 6, 2013 9:33am
 Black Bear Sugarworks of Vermont is opening its first shop on Fifth Avenue.
Vermont Maple Syrup Farm Launching Park Slope Retail Shop
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PARK SLOPE — A quiet corner of the snow-blanketed Vermont countryside is about to land in Brooklyn.

The maple syrup farm Black Bear Sugarworks is opening its first retail location at 374 Fifth Ave. between Fifth and Sixth streets this Saturday.

The shop, first reported by Park Slope Stoop, will be a brick-and-mortar version of a roadside farmstand that Black Bear Sugarworks owner Mark Hastings operated in Brattleboro, Vt. until 2012.

Hastings, who once ran a software encryption company, has been making maple syrup for 10 years. His Black Bear Sugarworks is a "sugar bush" (maple orchard) nestled in the Green Mountains of Vermont, where 140 acres of trees outfitted with 9,000 taps pump out sap.

The new Park Slope shop will be open through the holidays, selling several varieties of Hastings' syrups, as well as jams, jellies and hot sauces made by Hastings' friends in Vermont.

"What I've got is real food grown by real people in small quantities, that's all natural or certified organic," Hastings said. "I'm appealing to people who are looking to buy real food, as opposed to a great deal of food today, which just looks like food."

After New Year's, the store will close for three months for a major renovation. When it reopens in April, it will be a lunch counter serving the same chow that made Hastings' Vermont farmstand a hit on Trip Advisor, where one reviewer declared it the "best fast food in New England."

The menu will include chili cheese dogs, milk shakes and maple ice cream, all made with Vermont ingredients. There will also be a concoction called an "old-fashioned maple cream soda" made with soda water, maple syrup and cream. The Vermont version of a soft serve ice cream cone, known as a "creemee," will be sold there too, made with ice cream from Kingdom Creamery of Vermont.

The shop will be decorated with rustic touches like snowshoes and barn board.

"You're going to think you're in a Vermont outbuilding," Hastings said. At one point Hastings had planned to open in some empty lots in Fort Greene, but he ultimately chose the Fifth Avenue location because he wanted as much foot traffic as possible.

Though known as sugary pancake sweetener, maple syrup is considered by some to be a superfood, because it's packed with antioxidants and doesn't contain fructose, the form of sugar that's "not very good for humans," Hastings, a maple syrup evangelist, said.

"There are only two sugars you should be eating: honey and maple syrup," Hastings said. "We would love to fill people’s larders with pure Vermont organic maple syrup."