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.
2014 DAR Agricultural Calendar: September posted on Sep 12
September’s photo contest winner was Gary Kamen, who photographed Mount Warner Vineyard in Hadley. Mount Warner Vineyards is a farm-winery located in Hadley, a small town in the beautiful Pioneer Valley. Operated by Gary and Bobbie Kamen, their philosophy is to recognize the unique characteristics of …Continue Reading 2014 DAR Agricultural Calendar: September
Calling All Shuckers! posted on Sep 3
Do you know where the oysters you ate at the raw bar last night were grown? Do you know how oysters are grown? Oysters naturally inhabited the eastern coast dating back to the 1700s, but due to over-harvesting, disease, and habitat loss, wild oysters have …Continue Reading Calling All Shuckers!
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?