Commissioner Scott Soares
Commissioner, Department of Agriculture Resources (DAR)
March is the perfect time to explore the great outdoors of maple sugaring. Once you appreciate the distinctive natural flavor of real Massachusetts maple syrup, you’ll find it hard to go back to anything else. On March 4 at Zawalicks Sugar Shack in Florence, I had the privilege of ceremonially tapping a maple tree to kick off the maple season, the first sweet sign of spring, and the season’s first agricultural product. Massachusetts Maple Producer Association members, legislators and other guests attended. A proclamation from the Governor officially declared March as “Maple Month.”
When it comes to agriculture, Mother Nature is always in charge. It is especially true during the typically 4- to 6-week long sugaring season in Massachusetts. Last year was the worst season in ten years, but sugar makers are optimistic that the right combination of cold nights and warm days will be in their favor this time.
This year, the Maple producers launched a new passport program to encourage visits to Massachusetts sugarhouses. The passport can be downloaded from the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association’s website.
You’ll be directed to listings of sugarhouses and get a chance to visit and learn more about the syrup making process as well as to purchase local syrup! Sugar makers will sign the official passport with their name and the date of the visit. Enter a prize drawing after visiting four or more sugarhouses by April 10.
There are more than 300 Massachusetts maple producers (most located west of Worcester), which usually produce about 50,000 – 60,000 gallons of maple syrup per year.
Growers at winter markets will also have maple syrup and products for sale – be sure to check our MassGrown & Fresher site for details.
The Turtles are Coming posted on Aug 29
With a migration pattern that stretches thousands of miles, it is no surprise that Massachusetts is home to four types of turtles during the summer, all of them protected by local and international law. And while you probably know that sea turtles often frequent the Massachusetts beaches, can you identify them?
2014 DAR Agricultural Calendar: August posted on Aug 25
Augusts’ Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar Photo Contest winner was Cara Peterson, who photographed a high tunnel greenhouse at Flats Mentor Farm in Lancaster.
Not From Around Here: Green Crabs posted on Aug 22
As part of its work to assess salt marsh health, staff from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) have frequently observed abundant green crabs, often burrowing in the banks of marsh creeks. This summer, CZM is examining the potential impacts of green crabs in salt marsh habitats, including the impact of burrowing activity.