March comes in like a lion, leaves like a lamb, and leaves a whole lot of maple syrup behind.
The Natick Community Organic Farm will hang collecting buckets on hundreds of sugar maple trees throughout Natick, Wellesley, Sherborn, and Dover in preparation for the harvest.
It takes a mind-boggling 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.
Sunny days in the 40s and nights below freezing trigger the sap inside the sugar maples to run from the roots up to the buds, said marketing coordinator Trish Wesley Umbrell.
Volunteers collect this sap and concentrates it using its wood-fired evaporator.
The farm invited the public to celebrate all things maple syrup at its annual Maple Magic Day Saturday, March 5, 2011.
Festivities begin with the Farm’s annual pancake breakfast in the cafeteria of Memorial School from 8 AM to 11 AM at 107 Eliot St. Natick, MA 01760.
Pancakes are smothered in NCOF’s own maple syrup and The Clambake Five (a.k.a The Silver Leaf Jazz Band) will perform. Tickets will be sold at the door at $6 for NCOF members, and $3 for NCOF child members aged 4 to 8. Tickets are $8 for nonmembers, and $4 for nonmember children aged 4 to 8.
After breakfast, head across the road for more sticky fun from 9 AM to 3 PM at the Natick Community Organic Farm Sugar Shack. Take a maple sugaring tour, learn about Native American and Colonial sugaring techniques, and experience how NCOF boils sap into syrup in its wood-fired evaporator. Tours are $5 per person, or $4 for people who have first attended the pancake breakfast.
Lunch of hot soup, cider, and bread and bottles of maple syrup will be available for purchase. The event is held rain or shine.
If you can't make it on March 5, Umbrell said visitors are welcome to stop by the NCOF sugar shack whenever steam is rising from the shack’s roof, a signal that boiling is in progress.
Forty-five-minute educational tours of the sugar shack are available to both individuals and groups of up to 20 people throughout the month of March. Educational tours are $6 per person; there is no charge for kids under 4. Advance reservations are required. Tours are conducted Monday through Friday on the hour from 9 AM to 2 PM, and again at 3:30 PM and 4:15 PM. Saturday tours are conducted at 10 AM and 11 AM. Since syrup-making is weather-dependent, NCOF cannot guarantee that it will be boiling on tours. No refunds given.
Call NCOF to check availability or book a tour at (508) 508-907-6019. More information about the farms syruping operation here.
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(Photos of 2010 Maple Magic Day courtesy of NCOF)