CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – Maple sugar season! A time for learning, celebrating local culture and enjoying the fruits of our community! Sienna Wildfield, Founder, HilltownFamilies.org joined us to share more about the season.THREE RESOURCES1) Living History Museums
Families can experience what maple sugaring was like in the days of old New England at living history events. Demonstrations and hands-on opportunities can include: tree tapping, sumac spile making, sap boiling over a fire, open hearth cooking, and other early American skills. At living history museums, museum interpreters dressed in period clothing are wonderful resources for curious minds wanting to learn about New England history and lore of maple syrup:
Old Sturbridge Village (Sturbridge, MA)
Maple Days every weekend in March ($)
Storrowtown Village Museum (West Springfield, MA)
Maple Harvest Day on Sunday, March 15 (Free)2) Educational Farms
We have a number of farms in our region that are also education centers, including Just Roots (Greenfield), Holiday Brook Farm (Dalton) and Winterberry Farm (Leverett). Families can ahead and see if they are offering farm-based educational events and opportunities during maple syrup season.
Red Gate Farm (Buckland, MA)
Daily farm visits during sugar season. Taping, gathering & boiling sap. Sheep shearing.
Integrated learning opportunities include plant studies, farming, math & chemistry, and animal husbandry.3) Sugar Shacks
Sugar shacks are small cabins where maple sap is gathered and boiled down to syrup. Tours of sugar shacks are great opportunities to learn about local history, New England culture, local economy and technology. MassMaple.org has a comprehensive list of sugar shacks in Massachusetts. I have a couple of favorites in the Hilltowns: Red Bucket Sugar Shack (Worthington) & South Face Farm (Ashfield).
South Face Farm (Ashfield, MA)
Opening Weekend: February 28th & 29th.
Open daily, offering tours of their facility including displays of educational and antique maple equipment. Dress warm, arrive curious & ask questions:
What has changed over the years? What is the same?
How much sap makes a gallon of syrup?
What are the different grades of maple syrup?
How does the weather affect syrup production? Why?TWO TYPES OF COMMUNITY EVENTS1) Community Celebrations
In addition to living history and sugar house visits, families can further engage with their community by attending a community festival to celebrate sugar season and the coming of spring. The town of Chester’s 30th annual Maple Fest on Saturday, March 21 from 9am-3pm, celebrates the role that the tradition has had throughout the town’s history. Families can enjoy all sorts of maple treats produced by local farmers, learn about local syrup production, and perhaps learn some of the skills that they’ll need to try out sugaring for themselves!2) Community Pancake Breakfasts
Community meals are great intergenerational opportunities to sit down with neighbors of all ages, making connections and nurturing relationships across the generations. During sugar season, look for pancake breakfasts in your community. Participating in a community pancake breakfast does more than fill your belly… it strengthens the social fabric of community by developing a sense of place in our children, and often times, raising money for our school and community organizations.
Easthampton PTO Pancake Breakfast: Saturday, February 28
Friends of Berkshire Trail Elementary School Pancake Breakfast (Cummington): Saturday, March 14
Buckland Library Pancake Breakfast (Buckland): Saturday, March 14