March is here and winter is slowly melting into spring. The warm days and cool nights mark a short but sweet spot on the calendar – the sap is running and sugaring season is here. All over the region, trees are being tapped to collect that liquid gold: maple syrup.
Throughout the month of March, which the governor has officially proclaimed as “Maple Sugar Month” in Massachusetts, there is plenty of maple-themed fun (and food) to savor. From the Berkshires to the North Shore, many of the state’s 300+ maple producers are hosting events this month where you can watch the process of turning sap into syrup, or enjoy an authentic sugarhouse maple breakfast. The Massachusetts Maple Producers Association kicks off the season on March 9, tapping the ceremonial first tree at Mill Brook Sugarhouse in Lenox. Statewide, Maple Weekend follows on March 17-18.
Check out some of these maple sugaring events and demonstrations happening this month. You can also find a comprehensive list of sugarhouses at massmaple.org.
Brookwood Farm, Canton
A decades-old tradition, Maple Sugar Days Festival at DCR’s Blue Hills Reservation is slated for March 24 and 25. Take a walk down “Maple Lane” and learn to handle and use various sugar making tools. Smell the wood smoke as you watch clouds of steam rise from bubbling sap cooking into syrup in the sugarhouse, and get a taste of real maple. Activities include games for children, a warming bonfire, and horse-drawn wagon rides. Skilled artisans demonstrate traditional, hand-powered crafts. Grab a bite to eat from a food truck, and locally produced maple syrup is available for purchase. $5-$10. No reservations required. massaudubon.org.
Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Lincoln
Various goings on such as “Maple Moo” and “Sip Some Sap” are held throughout the month of March, but the sweetest event is the Sap-to-Syrup Farmer’s Breakfast on March 10 and 11. See how sap is collected from the majestic maple trees and enjoy a hearty pancake breakfast with real maple syrup, and Drumlin’s own roasted potatoes and sausage. $15-$17. Reservations required, call 781-259-2200 or visit massaudubon.org.
Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Ipswich
Guided weekend Sugaring Tours take place Saturdays and Sundays in March, where visitors learn how to identify a sugar maple, observe tapping and sap collection methods, and watch sap get boiled down in the sugarhouse. Taste the final product, then warm up by the wood stove in the barn where you can enjoy “sap dogs,” hot soups and delicious desserts. Tours last about one hour and run in all weather. $8-$11. Wrap up the sugaring season at the Spring Flapjack Fling on March 24, featuring a breakfast of pancakes, fruit, and of course, maple syrup, followed by a sugaring tour. $14-$17. Registration required for all events, call 978-887-9264 or visit massaudubon.org.
Land’s Sake Farm, Weston
The nonprofit public farm and educational organization’s Sugaring Off event on March 24 will take place at the Bill McElwain Sugar House at Weston Middle School. Watch maple sugaring demonstrations and enjoy a maple-filled breakfast, all led by students in the farm’s maple education programs. landssake.org.
Maple Ledge Farm, Holland
Boiling sap starts on March 3 and continues on weekends through the month. Stop by to see demonstrations. Enjoy a pancake breakfast served up on March 17 and 18; donations accepted for the Easter Seals of Massachusetts. facebook.com/maple.ledge/
Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, Sharon
Experience the sugaring process from tree to table during Maple Sugaring Weekends March 17, 18 and 25. Learn how sugaring evolved from Native American to Colonial to current procedures during a 90-minute outdoor, guided tour where characters from the past portray their daily tasks, like tapping trees. End the tour at the sugarhouse to taste the final product, then stop by the Visitor Center for children’s crafts, pancakes, “sap dogs,” maple-dusted popcorn and more. $10. Registration required, call 781-784-5691 or visit massaudubon.org.
Natick Community Organic Farm, Natick
Maple Sugaring Tours are offered during sugaring season at this nonprofit, certified-organic farm. Explore the history and artifacts of maple sugaring from Native American to Colonial to modern times. Learn about the science of sugaring, visit their tapped sugar maples, sip some sap while it drips into the bucket, and stop by the sugar shack where sap is boiled down into delicious syrup. Boiling and sap flow is entirely weather dependent. Tours run for about an hour and must be booked in advance. $8. natickfarm.org.
North Hadley Sugar Shack, Hadley
Watch syrup be boiled in the evaporator room on weekends in March. Tours and tastings for Maple Weekend, March 17 and 18. Maple breakfast served 7 days a week. Reservations recommended. northhadleysugarshack.com.
Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge
Weekends in March are Maple Days at this living history museum. See maple sugaring as it was done in early 19th Century rural New England at OSV’s working sugar camp. The entire process is brought to life – from tapping the trees to “sugaring off” – with costumed historians, period foods, other maple related items. Included with cost of admission. osv.org.
River Bend Farm, Uxbridge
Park staff and volunteers take visitors on a guided tour of the art and science of tapping maple trees, gathering sap and producing syrup during Maple Sugar Days, March 3 and 4. Free, 90-minute tours are on a first-come, first-served basis and include indoor and outdoor elements. No registration required. blackstoneheritagecooridor.org.
South Shore Natural Science Center, Norwell
Explore maple history, culture and production at Maple Day on March 11. Help tap trees and watch how sap is boiled into syrup. Woodland walks, sweet treats, crafts and hands-on activities all part of the event. $5-$8. southshorenaturalsciencecenter.org.
The Warren Farm, North Brookfield
Open weekends in March for sugaring tours. This tour discusses the history and future of maple sugaring. Guests visit the woods to explore two different systems of tapping, then head to sugarhouse to see the evaporator at work receiving sap from the collection tanks outside. See firsthand how sap is boiled to syrup before stopping at the greenhouse for stories and samples. $5. Reservations required, call 508-867-0174.
Beyond the Bay State
The annual Hebron Maple Festival in central Connecticut March 17-18 will feature sugar house tours, kids’ activities, and of course, a pancake breakfast. Vermont plays host to some sweet celebrations, including two maple festivals in April and the annual Maple Adventure Ride – a 24-mile bike ride that leads to a different sugar house each year. The 2018 ride on March 25 starts in West Windsor.