By Analiese Paik
Are you itching to get outside after being cooped up all winter? Maple sugaring season is up on us, and with it comes a variety of fun and educational events for the whole family at farms, nature centers and land trusts. Maple syrup is only produced in northeastern North America, making visiting a sugarhouse a very special way to say adios to winter and welcome the spring in Connecticut. Use our guide to sugar houses in Fairfield County to plan your outing, or two!
A word about price: sap is mostly collected by hand by driving spiles into trees and hanging collection buckets, which makes it labor intensive. Once collected, maple sap is boiled down in an evaporator until it become syrup. It takes 40 to 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup! Consider that when buying from a local farm rather than the store.
If you’d like to learn to tap your own trees, please read our feature article, Tapping Mother Nature, about Tap My Trees.
New This Year: Maple Syrup Open House at Dirt Road Farm
71 Newtown Turnpike Weston, CT 06883
Sunday, March 6th, 2016 12-4 pm — Rain, Snow, Sleet or Shine
It’s Sugar Season. Now is your chance to see maple syrup produced the old-fashioned way on a working family farm that follows organic practices. See how a sugar maple tree is tapped, experience the physical exertion of hauling countless buckets of sap to the sugar house, watch the sugar maker turn that sap into “liquid gold” … 100% pure maple syrup!
Maple syrup is a hot topic in health trends lately. First discovered and utilized by northern Native Americans, who also drank the season’s mineral-rich early sap as a spring tonic, it is being touted as an indigenous American superfood and a boon for athletes and health-conscious individuals. Loaded with polyphenols (naturally-occurring antioxidants) and essential nutrients like zinc and manganese, maple syrup is indeed good for you, but even better is the smoky-sweet, woodsy caramel flavor it lends to anything to which it’s added. Not only for pancakes and waffles, maple syrup is a star mixed into yogurt, smoothies, salad dressings, baked goods and even cocktails.
At Dirt Road Farm, a relatively small maple syrup operation with 300 taps, you’ll have a chance to taste 100% pure Connecticut maple syrup right where it’s harvested and made — and buy a bottle or two to savor at home. Dirt Road Farm contact: firstname.lastname@example.org and 203.216.0661.
Greenwich Land Trust Hosts Maple Tapping & Winter Walk
Tuesday, March 8 from 3:00-5:00 pm
Take a winter nature walk with the Greenwich Land Trust’s stewardship staff through one of GLT’s forest preserves on Tuesday, March 8th from 3:00-5:00PM. See a maple tapping and syrup boiling demonstration and learn what goes into making the sweet stuff! The process of maple tapping is indigenous to our northern forests and an important part of our local history. During this time of year, the forest is just waking up from a long slumber and we’ll talk about the clever ways plants and wildlife survive the winter.
Walking conditions: moderate difficulty with minimal uneven terrain
Refreshments will be served
Location: Lapham Preserve- between 95 and 85 Richmond Hill Road, Greenwich
Price: Non-Members – $35 per family; Members- $20 per family
Limit: 50 attendees
RSVP: Michelle Spinei 203.629.2151 ext. 102 or email@example.com
The Greenwich Land Trust, founded in 1976, is a 501c3 non-profit organization and nationally accredited land trust dedicated to maintaining 741 acres of land in Greenwich, CT – to protect the environmental health of our community, preserve its natural beauty and conserve its waterways, forests and wildlife for this and future generations. To learn more, please visit www.gltrust.org
New Canaan Nature Center
Boil Down Fridays and Saturdays
Friday, February 26,from 10-2 pm and each Friday through the end of the season
Saturday, February 27 and March 5, from 10-2 pm
Have you ever wondered where maple syrup comes from? Meet the NCNC Naturalists out at our Sugar Shack to learn how they make their very own maple syrup! Learn about the history of this New England tradition, what syrup grades really mean, what causes sap to flow in winter. Boil Down Fridays and Saturdays are a drop-in program open FREE to the public and appropriate for all ages. Visit their website for more information.
Ambler Farm, Wilton (follows organic practices)
Open House Saturday March 5 and 12 from 1-2 pm
Experience a New England tradition: turning sap into syrup! The history and process of making syrup is fascinating. Kids and families will have an opportunity to tap a tree, take the maple syrup taste test, learn about Native American, colonial, and modern methods of making syrup and, of course, taste Ambler Farm’s very own maple syrup over vanilla ice cream. Bottles of Ambler Farm Maple Syrup will be available for sale. This event is free and open to the public.
257 Hurlbutt Street Wilton, CT 06897-2708
Warrup’s Farm, Redding (Certified Organic)
Free maple sugaring demonstrations from noon until 5 pm during the first three weekends in March
John Read Road, Redding, CT,
1.2 miles north of Redding Center, off Route 107
Each of the first three weekends in March, owner Bill Hill treats guests to a free lesson as he keeps a close eye on the wood-fired cooker, taking care not to let the syrup overcook. Visitors are welcome to watch the process, ask questions, and have a taste. Maple syrup and maple candies will be available for sale. It’s best to visit Warrup’s website for any schedule updates or call 203-938-9403 to plan your visit.
Stamford Museum & Nature Center
Maple Sugar Festival Weekend
Saturday, March 5 and Sunday, March 6, 2015
11:00 am-3:00 pm
$5 admission for members/$10 non-members
children 3 and under are free
39 Scofieldtown Road, Stamford CT 06903
Visit the little red sugarhouse on Heckscher Farm and see firsthand how sap is turned into sweet maple syrup. Witness how trees are tapped and sap is collected, make a maple-themed craft, go on a scavenger hunt, have your face painted and more.
On Saturday, watch teen chefs create delicious dishes using SM&NC maple syrup and vote for your favorite in the First County Bank Teen Chefs Challenge from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm. On Sunday, enjoy the popular pancake brunch from 11 am to 2 pm. Don’t forget to purchase a pint of fresh maple syrup, made from the trees at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center.
Daily Admission Fees:
Members: $5 per person | Non-Members: $10 per person
Family Plus Members: and above levels and all children 3 & under: FREE
Pancake Brunch (SUNDAY only, 11am – 2pm) Additional $5 fee.
Tickets for the event and brunch are available for online purchase here.
Stamford Museum & Nature Center
Maple Sugar Open House
Sunday, March 13, 1 – 4 pm
Missed our Maple Sugar Festival or want one more sweet taste before the season is finished? Join us for our last public maple demonstration of the year. Create some great maple-themed crafts in Overbrook, meet some animals that live in trees in Heckscher WILD!, and visit our sugarhouse to see how we turn sap into syrup. At 3:30 pm, enjoy a delicious treat – ice cream with maple syrup, while supplies last. Crafts and sugarhouse demos ongoing; Heckscher WILD! animal presentations at 1:30 and 2:30 pm