Posts tagged agri-tourism

It’s Maple Sugar Time

A couple of weeks ago a blog post came through on TreeHugger talking about the effect of climate change on the maple syrup industry in the Northeast.  According to the post, tree migration, warmer weather in the winter months and shorter “cold recharge cycles” are to blame.  I would like to add severe weather to the list, since Western Massachusetts was hit with a huge ice storm this year, which devastated trees of all kinds and also devastated the maple syrup industry in Massachusetts.

These developments are really sad, and upset me on a very personal level.  Every year a group of girlfriends and I make the trek to Western Mass or Southern Vermont for our annual “Maple Weekend.”  We have a core group of five, and periodically there are guest appearances by other friends or family members.  This year we had our first outing with a baby, when one of my friends brought her 8 month old daughter for her first maple experience.

Regardless of the destination, the trip consists of making the rounds from one sugar shack to the next.  This year we had a light year, visiting only 3 or 4 shacks on our one day outing.  In past years we’ve done two day trips  and visit up to 5 shacks per day.  We even have a theme song that we listen to as the expedition gets under way (courtesy of BV): “Maple Syrup Time” by Moxy Fruvous (a cover of a Pete Seger song).

Red Bucket Sugar Shack

Red Bucket Sugar Shack (That's steam from boiling the maple sap!)

The one thing that all of the shacks we visit has in common is that they boil their own syrup, other than that they are very different.  We usually start the day at a shack that serves a solid breakfast complete with all the maple syrup you can eat.  One year we went to a place where they gave out shots of maple syrup.  Yumm!!!

Next we move on to a place with maple cotton candy and maple roasted nuts.  They even have maple kettle corn.  After a couple of additional stops we end the day at Scary Jerry’s, where they make the most amazing maple bakes beans, cole slaw and sugar on snow (you guessed it, maple syrup served over actual snow).  You can only imagine what its like in the car home with 5 of us all hopped up on  maple sugar!

The sign inside Scary Jerry's

The sign inside "Scary Jerry's"

This weekend is one that I look forward to every year, and the years that I have missed have been very sad for me.  I can’t imagine what it would be like if the maple industrydisappeared from New England.  While I would be sad for myself and my friends, I would be even more sad for the people who have dedicated their lives to maintain this age- old tradition.  I don’t think any of them are getting rich as it is, and if they didn’t have maple sugar to rely on for income, I’m not sure what they would do for work.  The areas they live in are quite rural and I don’t think there is much opportunity for work outside agri-tourism.

In the meantime, I plan to do my part to stop climate change by buying local and supporting these great entrepreneurs!  Here are some of our favorites:

New Favorite This Year:

Hanging Mountain Farm
(and they are open year round)(Amazing Oatmeal & Egg Bake)

413-527-0710

188 North Rd, Westhampton, MA 01027
hangingmountainfarms.com

Old Stand Bys:

South Face Farm Sugarhouse

755 Watson-Spruce Corner Road
Ashfield, MA 01330

413-628-3268
http://www.southfacefarm.com/

Red Bucket Sugar Shack

413-238-7710

584 Kinnebrook Rd, Worthington, MA 01098
(great variety of products including kettle corn and cotton candy)

Windy Hill Farm (Scary Jerry’s)
West St, Worthington, MA 01098
(savory lunch stop and Sugar On Snow)

High Hopes Sugarhouse
413-238-5919

1132 Huntington Rd, Worthington, MA
(don’t eat her but stop for the photos)

Happy mapling!

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