SPECULATOR, N.Y. — Come to us for the sweet talk! McComb’s Oak Hill Farm is a medium-sized operation founded and run by David and Karen McComb, located in Speculator in Hamilton County. Entering its 23rd season, McComb’s Oak Hill Farm works 2,000 taps and makes maple syrup, sugar, candies, and cotton candy.
Karen said the farm is, “a hobby that got out of control.” The farm started in 1999 after David and Karen moved to Speculator from Albany when they retired. As a former truck driver and pharmacist, David and Karen were out of their element and in need of guidance. They were able to get started thanks to a former maple maker from the area and education from Cornell University’s Uihlein Maple Research Forest in Lake Placid. With this help, they were able to build a sugarhouse and get started, and they have grown their operation steadily since then.
Karen went on to describe their farm as a “low-key operation,” but that is what they like about it. As a smaller, family operation, they are able to show visitors a different view of the industry. Similar to past years, the McCombs will offer farm tours and evaporating demonstrations to visitors at this year’s Maple Weekends coming up on March 19-20 and 26-27. In the eight counties of the Upper Hudson region, over 20 sugar houses will open their doors so visitors can see how sugarmakers turn maple sap into the finest maple syrup on earth. Fresh maple products will be available to purchase, and many sugarhouses will be serving breakfast.
McComb’s Oak Hill Farm has kept up with technological advancements and today has an up-to-date evaporator and vacuum system. This has been an important aspect of their farm because, as Karen said, “It is good to let the technology work for you as much as possible.” David and Karen’s children and grandchildren live in the Saratoga Springs area and make the trek up often to help out during the sugaring season. David recently turned 80, and Karen is in her upper 70s. While they both actively operate the farm, they appreciate the help of family.
Throughout the year they sell their maple products from their sugarhouse, in a local farmers market, and at other local events. Typically, the NYS Maple Weekends do not draw a big crowd to their sugarhouse because of their remote location, but visitors get to enjoy tapping and evaporating demonstrations plus walks through the woods. Being located on the other side of Oak Mountain ski area gives them a steady stream of visitors on the mountain’s final weekends of the ski season in March. They are also active in the summer months, giving tours to visitors of the area camps. Many of the summer visitors come from more urban areas where maple making is not common or known at all, so the McCombs enjoy sharing how maple syrup is made from tap to bottle.
For updates and more info from McComb’s Oak Hill Farm, check out their Facebook page. For more info on the 2022 NYS Maple Weekends and a list of producers to visit check out the Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association website at https://www.upperhudsonmaple.
About the Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association: The Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association is a trade organization representing over 60 maple producers, including sugaring operations ranging from less than 100 taps to over 10,000. The group works together to raise consumer awareness of pure maple syrup made in the Upper Hudson Region – Columbia, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Warren, and Washington counties.
–Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association