Friday, March 1, 2013

Accessible Maple Sugaring Guide

Once again, we've come around to the magical time of year that still feels like winter, but is showing signs of spring. The days are gradually lengthening, the sun is a little brighter, and the sap is already flowing! Break out of the house, take a deep breath of fresh air and visit a state park for a sweet taste of the 2013 season!

Anyone living in eastern Massachusetts can take advantage of these special weekend events offered by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation listed below. For those further away from the Boston area, scroll down to the end of this list.

March 2 - Tapping of the Trees - Middlesex Fells Reservation, Stoneham, 12 noon. Come to the Fells ‘sugar bush’ to tap maple trees at Breakheart Reservation. Meet at the Bothume House visitor center. The visitor center is located at 4 Woodland Road on Spot Pond in Middlesex Fells Reservation. This program is free. For more information please call (781) 233-0834. The Botume House is not wheelchair accessible.

March 2-3 - Maple Sugar Days -  Riverbend Farm, Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park, Uxbridge 11am-2pm. Co-sponsored with the Blackstone Valley Sugaring Association. Park staff and volunteers take you through the art and science of producing maple syrup. See trees being tapped, participate in gathering sap, and visit the steamy sugar house to watch syrup being made. Tours include both indoor and outdoor elements. Please dress for the weather, wear appropriate footwear for a short walk. Program is free for all ages and open to the public. Reasonable accommodations available upon request. To check on event status, please call River Bend Farm Visitor Center, located at 287 Oak Street, at 508-278-7604. Call to verify that sugarhouse is accessible if you use a wheelchair. Exhibits at Riverbend Farm are wheelchair accessible.

March 9-10 - Maple Sugar Festival - Brookwood Farm, Blue Hills Reservation, Milton, 10am-4pm.  It’s sugarin’ time in the Blue Hills! Join us as we make maple syrup in the traditional way at beautiful Brookwood Farm in Milton. Put on your boots and flannel shirt and join in the outdoor fun! Learn how to identify a sugar maple and see the sap drip into buckets from the trees. Travel along the trail of time and meet costumed characters demonstrating the changes in maple sugaring methods from Native Americans to Yankee farmers to modern day technology. Smell the wood smoke as you watch clouds of steam rise from the bubbling sap. Savor the taste of real maple syrup. Enjoy a free shuttle ride on the Maple Express Trolley. Activities are appropriate for all ages. Program admission is $6 Children under 2 are free. Maple Sugar Days is a joint program of the Department of Conservation and Recreation and Massachusetts Audubon’s Trailside Museum. The program admission fee is charged to benefit the Trailside Museum. This program is wheelchair accessible. For details or more information call (617) 698-1802 or (617) 333-0690.

March 16 - Maple Sugaring - Breakheart Reservation, Saugus, 10am-2pm. Learn about the history of maple sugarin’, participate in a tree identification activity, tap a maple, watch the evaporator at work in the Sugar Shack, and best of all taste the results! A $5 admission will support the program, used directly for the equipment you will see in action ($20 per family). Takes place in and near the wheelchair accessible Christopher Dunne Visitor Center at 177 Forest Street. For more information please call (781) 233-0834.

March 17 - Pancake Breakfast - Breakheart Reservation, Saugus, 9am-12noon. Join the Friends of Breakheart Reservation at the Christopher P. Dunne Visitor Center at Breakheart Reservation for their annual Pancake Breakfast. Visitors can eat delicious pancakes and watch DCR staff working in the Sugar Shack to see how syrup is made. There is a $5 admission fee. For more information please call (781) 233-0834.

March weekdays - Krug Sugarbush Tours - Chesterfield. Join the Park Staff at the Krug Sugarbush in the eastern Berkshires weekdays during the month of March to see how maple syrup is produced. Visitors will learn first-hand how the sap is collected from maple trees and boiled down to produce pure maple syrup. Operation is based on weather, so please call one day prior to your visit. Advanced group reservations are welcome. For more information please call (413) 268-7098. This site is not wheelchair accessible.

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is also offering a listing of sugarhouses where visitors can purchase maple products including maple syrup and maple candy and enjoy open houses and tours. A complete listing can be found by going to the MassGrown & Fresher website Google map and clicking on “maple”. You will need to contact sugar operations directly to find out about accessibility.

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