Governor Charlie Baker today declared March as “Massachusetts Maple Month,” continuing the Commonwealth’s support of maple producers and encouraging Massachusetts residents to purchase locally-produced maple products.
To kick off Maple Month, state and local officials held a ceremonial sugar maple tree tapping at Sunrise Farm in Colrain on Friday, March 6, 2020. Among the participants were Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux, Undersecretary of Environment Daniel P. Sieger.
Governor Baker said, “Massachusetts is home to approximately 300 maple syrup producers, including many that are open to the public throughout the sugaring season. The Commonwealth’s maple industry produces more than 70,000 gallons of maple products every year, and we encourage residents across the state to visit their local maple farmers and take part in this unique annual tradition.”
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said, “It is so exciting to see how maple sugaring boosts the Commonwealth’s economy by employing over 1,000 workers and contributing more than $6 million annually to local communities. Not only do Massachusetts maple producers benefit during the sugaring season, but other businesses, such as restaurants, bed and breakfasts, country inns, and other tourist attractions are able to share in this economic opportunity.”
Massachusetts is home to approximately 300 maple syrup producers, including many who are open to the public throughout the sugaring season. Last year more than 72,000 gallons of maple syrup was produced, and Massachusetts maple producers’ sales each year contribute more than $6 million to the Commonwealth’s economy. The maple industry employs over 1,000 workers and Massachusetts sugar makers steward more than 15,000 acres of woodland.
Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides said, “Given that Massachusetts maple producers steward more than 15,000 acres of woodland, it is evident that environmental sustainability is an important part of their business model. In addition, many of the state’s maple businesses have been recipients of the Department of Agriculture’s Ag-Energy grants, and have used funding to help install environmentally friendly equipment that improves efficiency, reduces emissions, and helps the Commonwealth meet its ambitious climate goals.”
MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux said, “We have been proud to award over $300,000 in Agricultural Energy grants over the past five years to maple producers across the state to help mitigate the impacts of climate change. By planning ahead and making changes in their production models, maple farmers are able to produce the Commonwealth’s first agricultural product of the year while also taking care to be good stewards of the environment and protect the ecosystems they work in.”
While March has earned the distinction of Maple Month, tapping in Massachusetts can start as early as late January and continue through April. For the best sugaring, nights must be below freezing and days must be above freezing. Everything from the weather, soil, and genetics of the tree can affect maple syrup flavor.
Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism Executive Director Keiko Matsudo Orrall said, “Maple sugar plays a vital role in our agri-tourism industry, attracting visitors to the Commonwealth each year to savor this unique ‘Made in MA’ product. “March is a perfect month to visit a sugar shack in Massachusetts, and enjoy tastings, tappings and tours of this sweet, indigenous Bay State product.”
The Massachusetts Maple Producers Association (MMPA) will hold its 6th Annual Maple Weekend March 21-22, 2020, and will feature open house events at sugarhouses throughout central and western Massachusetts.
For information about visiting Massachusetts any time of the year, go to MassVacation.com.