“Massachusetts sugarmakers were wondering if spring would ever come, and when it finally did they made the most of it,” says Massachusetts Maple Producers Association (MMPA) coordinator Winton Pitcoff. According to the MMPA, maple producers manufactured 75,000 gallons of syrup during the sugaring season this year, which runs from late February to early April most years, although this winter was so harsh that sap did not begin to run until March.
Nationally, syrup production was up by 6 percent, but in Massachusetts it increased by 23 percent from 2014. The sap from the 310,000 taps set in maple trees around the state helped make Massachusetts number nine on the list of maple producing states this year.
On the North Shore, a number of farms are devoted to tapping trees for maple syrup. Located in the more wooded areas of this region, they range from small family farms like Maple Moon Sugarhouse in Georgetown, which produces 40-50 gallons of sap per year from their 200 taps to Appleton Farms in Ipswich. Appleton Farms is a property of the Trustees of Reservations and resides on almost 1,000 acres of forests, fields, pastures, and wetlands. It is a diary farm as well as a maple producer and is the oldest continuingly in use farm in the country.
Appleton Farms, along with Turtle Lane Maple Farm in North Andover, provides tours for those interested in the art of maple syrup making. Appleton Farms also holds Saturdays in the Sugar Shack during the sugaring season where families can come and witness the process of how tree sap is distilled to capture the best possible grade of syrup, walk the maple lined trails and help collect sap from the taps all over the property.
These farms, as well as 40 other farms across the state, participated in Maple Weekend March 21-22 of this year. Over the course of this weekend the farms opened the doors to their sugar shacks to visitors from across the state, who got a glimpse into how the syrup is made, learned about the process and sampled and purchased Massachusetts’ sweetest crop. Almost 40 restaurants in the state featured dishes with 100 percent pure Massachusetts maple syrup that weekend as well, showing their support for the ever-growing maple industry.
Maple Moon Sugarhouse, 138 Jewett St., Georgetown. 978-376-3032
Appleton Farms, 219 Country Rd., thetrustees.org/appletonfarms
Turtle Lane Maple Farm, 978-258-2889, turtlelanemaplefarm.com