In this area, the boiling season starts in the middle of February and concludes around the first week of April when buds start to emerge on the trees. The sugaring process begins when each tree is tapped and sap is collected into blue, red, or black tubing. The North Hadley Sugar Shack is careful not to harm their trees by over-tapping them. Mark Moriarty, who has been a sugar maker for more than 10 years, explains that there should never be more than two taps per tree. He adds that if a tree is small enough that your arms can go around it, there should only be one tap.
A vacuum pump moves the sap from the trees, through the tubing, and into a holding tank. The sugar then goes through a reverse osmosis machine, which removes water from the sap and changes the sugar content from 2% to 17%.
In addition to producing some of the most delicious maple syrup around, North Hadley Sugar Shack also has a Market where they sell all of their own maple products, flowers, and grass-fed beef, chicken, and pork. The North Hadley Market also provides the community with access to other local products including Mapleline Farm milk, Maple Valley Creamery ice cream, homemade bakery items, local craft beers, and local wine.
Photo and video credit: Keith Toffling Photography.