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Maple Sugaring at the Farm

Maple Sugaring is a time-honored New England tradition, and is a delicious way to transition from the icy grip of winter into the warmer breezes of spring. Every year, farmers at Red Gate Farm tap trees, collect sap, and boil it down into sticky, sweet, yummy maple syrup.

Sugaring Field Trips

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School groups are invited to visit the farm for a short field trip to learn about the process of making maple syrup. Our program is hands-on and outdoors. Visiting the forest and the sugarhouse, students learn how to tap a tree, see our evaporator in action boiling sap, and of course try a sweet sample of syrup. We cover all aspects of sugaring including: ecology of the forest, biology of the maple tree, physics of boiling and evaporation and the math of calculating our production.

Our field trips are geared towards elementary students (K - 6), but can also be adapted for older audiences as well. Sugaring field trips run from late February through early April.

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Cost is $10 per student for a 2 hour program. For longer programs, please contact the farm office directly. Chaperones and group leaders are free.

Register by calling the farm office at (413) 625-9503 or emailing jake@redgatefarm.org

 

Massachusetts Maple Weekend

Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19
1pm - 4pm

This year we will be celebrating with other sugarhouses during Massachusetts Maple Weekend. Visitors are welcome from 1pm - 4pm on Saturday and Sunday to learn all about making maple syrup. Our small evaporator will be operating, there will be delicious maple syrup tastings, and we'll doing tapping demonstrations on Sunday. While you are here, take a hike into the sugarbush (snowshoes provided), visit with our farm animals, or purchase some farm products to take home. In addition to maple syrup, we sell pasture-raised pork, lamb and honey.

From Tree to Table

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The farm has about 250 taps per year. We do a combination of buckets and tubing, and boil our sap in a 2x6 evaporator.

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In late February, when we start to have warmer days and cold nights, the sap begins to flow. We collect the sap, first in buckets and then larger tanks, and transport it to holding tanks near our sugarhouse. There, the sap is fed slowly into a wood fired evaporator where it is boiled to remove most of the water content.

It takes approximately forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. That's a lot of water to remove! When our evaporator is working at peak levels it removes a little more than a gallon of water every two minutes - all in the form of steam.

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Once enough water is removed, the resulting syrup is tested with a hydrometer. This density test is a much more accurate way of testing the composition of the syrup. Ready syrup is taken out of the evaporator and put into a smaller container that sits on top of some propane burners. Here we keep the syrup hot, and test it one more time. Once ready, we bottle it up, and its ready to eat. Yum!

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