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Natick Community Organic Farm to host maple syrup festival

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  February 13, 2012 02:59 PM

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Children tote along the sap collecting buckets at past Natick Community Organic Farm maple syrup events.

Every February and March, the Natick Community Organic Farm hangs collecting buckets on hundreds of sugar maple trees throughout Natick, Wellesley, Sherborn, and Dover. Sunny days in the 40 degree Fahrenheit range, and nights dropping to below freezing, trigger the sap inside the sugar maples to run from the roots up to the buds.

The farm collects this sap with the help of youth and adult volunteers and concentrates it using its wood-fired evaporator, turning 40 gallons of sap into one gallon of maple syrup.

This year, the farm again invites the public to celebrate all things maple syrup, and to showcase the 150 gallons of maple syrup it produces a year, at the annual Maple Magic Day on Saturday, March 10.

DSC08165.JPGThe festivities will kick off with the farm’s annual pancake breakfast in the cafeteria of the Memorial School on Eliot Street in Natick from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Breakfast-goers can line up for pancakes smothered in the farm's own maple syrup while listening to the music of The Clambake Five.

Agricultural demonstrations and a nonprofit fair will take place in the foyer, and raffle tickets will be sold at the door.

Admission for the breakfast is $6 for Natick Farm members, $3 for Natick Farm child members aged 4 to 8; $8 for nonmembers, and $4 for nonmember children aged 4 to 8.

Save a dollar off your admission by walking or biking to the event, or taking the free JFK Transportation shuttle from Windy-Lo Nursery.

Natick Farm memberships may be purchased at the door.

After breakfast, attendees can head across the road for maple sugaring tours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the farm's Sugar Shack, located at the top of the Farm’s driveway at 117 Eliot St.

Locals can also learn about Native American and colonial sugaring techniques, and experience how the farm boils sap into syrup in its wood-fired evaporator.

A lunch of hot soup, cider, bread and bottles of maple syrup will be available for purchase.

Maple Sugaring Tours are $6 per person, or $5 for people who have first attended the pancake breakfast. This event will be held rain or shine.

The start and length of the sugaring season is entirely weather-dependent, but usually lasts from end of February to the end of March.

On average, the farm produces 150 gallons of maple syrup a year, which it sells to the public to support its farming operation.

Visitors are welcome to stop by the farm's 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 March.

Educational tours are $6 per person; there is no charge for kids under 3. Advance reservations are required.

Tours are conducted Monday through Friday on the hour from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and again at 3:30 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. Saturday tours are conducted at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m

Since syrup-making is weather-dependent, the farm cannot guarantee that it will be boiling on tours. No refunds given.

To check availability or book a tour for your family or school group, email Jeannette Christensen at jchristensen.ncorganic@verizon.net or call (508) 907-6019.

More information about NCOF’s syruping operation can be found at http://www.natickfarm.org/Pages/Maple_Sugaring.html.

Founded in 1975, The Natick Community Organic Farm is a nonprofit, certified-organic farm providing productive open space, farm products, and hands-on education for all ages, year-round.

Committed to farming methods that are ecologically healthy and sustainable, the farm places special emphasis on service to youth through year-round classes, work-experience programs and volunteer opportunities for working the land, according to farm officials.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jreiss.globe@gmail.com

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