Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wheelchair Accessible Maple Sugaring!

Tired of winter? Time to jump start spring and get your taste of a New England Tradition! Sample the syrup as it is being made this month at the following locations and events near Boston.

March 12 and 13  10am - 4pm  Maple Sugar Days at the Blue Hill Reservation in Milton, MA - This annual event is wheelchair accessible! Admission is $6 per person, ages 2 and younger are free. Enjoy the smell of sap cooking down, the taste of the latest batch, a free shuttle ride, and activities for all ages at beautiful Brookwood Farm. DCR and Mass Audubon jointly host this highly popular program. Nearby at Trailside Museum, visit outdoor wildlife exhibits. For more information, please call 617-698-1802 or 617-333-0690.

March 19 and 20  10am-2pm  Maple Sugarin' 2011 at Breakheart Reservation in Saugus, MA. Take a tour that includes tree identification, sugaring history, wood cutting, boiling, AND pancakes and popcorn by the campfire. The Christopher P. Dunne visitor center on site (177 Forest Street, off the Lynn Fells Parkway) is also wheelchair accessible. Cosponsored by DCR and the Friends of Breakheart Reservation. Requested donation $5 per person or $25 per family of 6. For more information, call 781-233-0834. No pre-registration required.

I asked Maria Caniglia, a DCR staff person who works at Breakheart Reservation, for advice on accessibility for this event. Maria uses a wheelchair and has loved ice skating at Universal Access Programs this winter. Maria responded "My first tip is to get here early! My second tip is to bring your appetite!" Sounds like there will be plenty of pancakes!!!

The more intrepid may also consider Maple Sugar Days at Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park  in Uxbridge. This free program runs with the sap on the first three weekends in March - sun, rain, snow - whatever the weather! Public tours start at 11am and run until 3pm on Saturdays (until 2:30pm on Sundays) on a first come-first serve basis. Indoors in the wheelchair accessible Riverbend Farm visitor center watch a welcome video, observe a talk and demonstration on the art and science of sugaring, and taste maple sap at the sampling table. Call 508-278-7604 to find out if the walk into the woods to collect sap and the sugar house are accessible this year. This event is cosponsored by DCR and Blackstone Valley Sugaring, a 100% volunteer run organization that maintains a sugar shack across from the visitor center.

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