For Immediate Release - March 05, 2014

PATRICK ADMINISTRATION CELEBRATES MAPLE MONTH WITH MAPLE WEEKEND MARCH 22 - 23

BOSTON – Wednesday, March 5, 2014 – Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Greg Watson today encouraged residents to celebrate Maple Month, which culminates with the first ever Maple Weekend on March 22 and 23. The event will showcase a variety of products made by Massachusetts’ maple producers

“Mother nature and the Commonwealth’s sugar makers provide us with a natural sweetener in pure maple syrup," said Commissioner Watson. "Maple syrup is the first agricultural product of the season and helps supplement the income of many dairy farms and growers in the state. By connecting consumers with producers, we can encourage economic activity in Massachusetts communities and help sustain local maple producers."

Maple Weekend will feature open house events at sugarhouses and special menu items made with maple syrup at local restaurants. Visitors to participating sugarhouses and restaurants will have an opportunity to learn about the sugaring process, meet sugar makers and hear about the role of the industry in the local economy and environment.

Maple Weekend is funded by a USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant, administered by DAR. The Massachusetts Maple Producers Association (MMPA) planned the Maple Weekend events and activities to bring awareness to the state’s maple producers and their products and encourage direct-to-consumer sales. In anticipation of Maple Weekend, the MMPA is hosting a maple recipe contest, "Think Beyond the Pancake!" on March 18.

March has earned the distinction of Maple Month, though tapping in Massachusetts can start at the end of January and continue through April. For prime 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 - like wine, flavor can differ from region to region.   

Massachusetts is home to about 300 maple syrup producers, with at least 100 hosting visitors throughout the sugaring season.  Last year, 63,000 gallons of maple syrup were produced, worth more than $3 million.  In addition, approximately $1.9 million in revenue is generated by agricultural tourism at maple farms, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, country inns, and other attractions in farm communities.  The industry preserves more than 13,000 acres of land, helping keep Massachusetts green across the map.  

To learn about the “Beyond the Pancake” recipe contest, sugarhouses holding open houses, and restaurants featuring menu items made with maple syrup, visit http://www.massmaple.org/ or call the Massachusetts Maple Association at 413-628-3912. Go to the Mass Grown and Fresher Google map http://www.mass.gov/massgrown and click on maple for a complete listing of farms, sugarhouses, and restaurants.

DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation and Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health and Crop and Pest Services – DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community in order to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr and follow us on twitter at @MDARCommish and @massgrown.

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