Protector of Pure Vermont Maple
Dakin Farm Founder is Smart Businessman and Strong Activist
- By Cheryl Dorschner
- In February, McDonald’s began giving its Vermont customers pure maple syrup or sugar to add to its faux maple and fruit oatmeal, thanks to a lawsuit brought by the State of Vermont.
- In December, U.S. Sen. John McCain railed against a tiny $165,000 budget item funding University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center. Vermont’s maple industry fired back (and rumor has it, sent McCain a jug of syrup.)
- In September, Log Cabin slapped the words “all natural” on its label. Vermont officials cried, “foul.”
In these cases and more, you can be sure that Sam Cutting III was working behind the scenes to secure Vermont maple’s reputation. And laws that Cutting helped enact give Vermont the leverage to take on these major companies and politicians.
Fierce advocacy and action were the attributes that earned Sam Cutting III of Ferrisburgh an Outstanding Alumnus Award from UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) during its alumni and friends awards dinner on May 14 at the campus Davis Center Grand Maple Ballroom. More than 180 people attended the 18th annual event at which seven of the College’s top awards were given. Tom Vogelmann, CALS dean was master of ceremonies and UVM Provost Jane Knodell was guest speaker.
Born in Trumbull, Connecticut, the son of a print shop owner, Cutting quickly learned he wasn’t interested in that career.
“We are all grateful for that,” quipped Vogelmann in presenting the award.
Cutting graduated from Berkshire School in Sheffield, Massachusetts, where he was captain of football and hockey teams. He graduated from UVM with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics. And just out of school, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, where he served as a fighter pilot in Japan.
In 1960, in order to return to the Green Mountain State, he joined the Vermont Air National Guard. That’s when he purchased a 120-acre farm with a small seasonal farm stand and moved his family into the adjacent 1792 farmhouse. It was called: Dakin Farm Maple Market.
Cutting took to farming, sugaring, smoking ham and bacon and selecting cheddar for the farm stand. He was a volunteer firefighter. When he finally stopped flying, he continued as an Air Force liaison, speaking at Vermont high schools. After 25 years of service, he retired as a colonel.
Today, Dakin Farm is a famous Route 7 tourist destination. With 14 additions, another retail store in South Burlington and a $2-million-dollar mail-order distribution center. Less known, but significant is that Sam founded and later sold the successful Dakin’s Mountain Shop and Climb High.
Sam Cutting III has been called a giant in the maple industry. He judges countless syrup contests and fairs, works with youth and adults alike, and at Dakin Farm hosts school groups, college students and visiting dignitaries – passing along Vermont’s maple heritage.
“I have years of fond memories of him grading maple essays written by elementary students,” said his son, Sam Cutting IV.
Founder of the Vermont Maple Promotion Board and the Vermont Maple Industry Council, he was chair of the latter for 25 years. As a result, he helped develop state and federal funding and legislation that serves the industry and maintain Vermont’s national leadership in maple. He has received every major award in the maple industry, culminating in induction into the International Maple Hall of Fame in 2008.
“Sam is also a giant in our College,” said Vogelmann.
Fellow maple producer David Marvin of Butternut Mountain Farm in Johnson, wrote in a letter of recommendation, “Sam became a lifelong Vermont after his UVM experience. He sent two children through UVM, he is a generous donor and champion of the Proctor Maple Research Center.
“Numerous times he had to exert real leadership to address concerns about research needs, marketing and regulatory issues,” continued Marvin.
Sam Cutting IV, who attended the event with the extended Cutting family, reflected, “it is heartwarming to be involved in the maple industry myself and to see the respect, appreciation and friendship everyone has for my father.”