|Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux, Under Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Beth Card, and state and local officials visit Grand Maple Farms in New Braintree to celebrate Maple Month.|
NEW BRAINTREE – Governor Charlie Baker declared March Massachusetts Maple Month in the Commonwealth.
“Our administration is pleased to continue the tradition of recognizing our maple sugar producers who have long been a unique and important part of Massachusetts’ agricultural industry, contributing more than $12 million to the local economy and employing over of 1,000 workers,” Baker said. “We are proud to support them and hope everyone will do the same by purchasing locally produced maple products this season.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s 2017 Census of Agriculture, Massachusetts is home to approximately 300 maple syrup producers who produce more than 70,000 gallons of syrup each year. Growers help maintain thousands of acres of open working landscapes across the Commonwealth.
The profits from maple syrup production allow many farms to remain in operation year-round, serving as a secondary crop and a source of additional income.
As one of the region’s unique agricultural foods, visitors come from all over the world to purchase produce during the sugar season. Farms, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, country inns and other tourist businesses share in this revenue, which primarily flows into small towns and farming communities, helping the local economy.
Massachusetts ranks among the top 10 maple producing states in the country.
“The start of the maple season is always an exciting time, ushering in a new growing season here in the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “With snow still on the ground, visiting a Massachusetts sugar shack provides a scenic New England experience while supporting our local economy by providing a boost that not only benefits our maple growers, but also other surrounding tourist destinations, such as restaurants and bed and breakfasts, with additional revenue opportunities.”
To celebrate the announcement, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux, state and local officials, and representatives of the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association today visited Grand Maple Farms in New Braintree to educate the many maple producers in the state and encourage residents to purchase locally produced maple products.
The visit to Grand Maple Farms included a tour of their facilities as well as a maple tapping ceremony to commemorate the start of sugaring off season. Owners Justin and Paul Schur started their business with 23 taps in 2011, which now has over 900 taps, including sugar maples and red maples.
Over the past six years, the Baker-Polito administration, through MDAR, has provided $341,785 in farm power grants to maple syrup producers across the state. These grants were used to offset the costs of installing updated, environmentally friendly equipment, including high-efficiency evaporators, heat recovery and reverse osmosis equipment.
“Maple syrup is a delicious, local product that is part of our agricultural heritage in Massachusetts, and maple sugar producers are true stewards of our land, protecting more than 15,000 acres of woods,” said the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Kathleen Theoharides. “Commonwealth maple syrup producers have also been pioneers and innovators, adopting state-of-the-art, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly technologies for harvesting and managing their sugar bushes.
Maple syrup has been produced and consumed for centuries in North America and its initial availability at the end of the winter season signals the start of the agricultural awakening in Massachusetts and a sign that spring is fast approaching.
Tree tapping in Massachusetts can begin as early as late January and continue through April, although March is officially maple month. More importantly, temperatures must be below freezing at night and above freezing during the day for tree sap to flow. Additionally, weather, soil, and tree genetics can affect the flavor of maple syrup.
“As we shake off another winter season and residents are eager to venture out, I can’t think of a better way to usher in a new growing season than to bring the family to a cabin at local sugar this month for a pancake breakfast complete with freshly produced local Massachusetts maple syrup,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “As with so many other aspects of our culture, the Massachusetts history is tied to maple history, and when you buy Commonwealth-made products, you’re not only supporting local farmers, but you’re honoring the history and legacy of our agricultural past. .”
Key words: maple,