North Hadley Sugar Shack

Tapped trees at the North Hadley Sugar Shack in Hadley, MA. 

The North Hadley Sugar Shack, owned by Joe and Shelly Boisvert, is located less than four miles from campus and supplies UMass Dining with high quality, pure maple syrup. The North Hadley Sugar Shack is a family-owned business that was started about twenty years ago in Hadley, Massachusetts. Last year in 2017, the sugar shack produced 2,300 gallons of maple syrup. Each year they collect sap from over 80 acres of trees and have 4,000 taps in use. They sell their finished products to Big Y, local co-ops, and UMass Dining. Their maple syrup provides a local, sustainably-made, natural sweetener for their local community that is a healthier alternative to bleached sugar. 

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%.   
Picture A tapped maple tree with a bucket to collect dripping sap. 

It takes 40 gallons of sap from a maple tree to make one gallon of maple syrup.  The sap is boiled down so the water can evaporate out creating the thick, rich syrup we all love. Reverse osmosis is used because it reduces energy use and halves the amount of wood needed to heat their equipment during the boiling and evaporation process. Additionally, North Hadley Sugar Shack collects all of the excess water that the reverse osmosis machine produces as a by-product and uses it to clean their machine. 

Picture A holding tank collecting sap to be boiled and made into maple syrup. Picture One of the machines at the sugar shack reducing the water content to make maple syrup. 

The final step is to put the sap through an evaporator to boil off the remainder of the excess water. The maple syrup is ready once the temperature of the liquid reaches 220 degrees Fahrenheit. If the syrup was to be boiled to a higher temperature, more water would be removed, creating maple candy or granulated sugar. Throughout the entire season, about ½ gallon of maple syrup is produced from each tap.  

The wood stove powering the boiling equipment at North Hadley Sugar Shack. 

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. Picture 

The sugar shack has a wide variety of fun events coming up ranging from local food samplings and maple soft serve to a pancake breakfast and a tractor pull. Check out their events page for more information.  Be sure to stop by for some fresh maple syrup, beautiful mums, exciting activities, and delicious foods from other local businesses! For more information about North Hadley Sugar Shack, visit their website

Thanks so much to the North Hadley Sugar Shack for working with UMass Dining and to Mark, Tucker, and Kevin for helping to create this blog post. UMass Dining appreciates our partnership and all of the hard work you do for our community.  
Photo and video credit: Keith Toffling Photography

North Hadley Sugar Shack