On Saturday March 19th, Boston ICO volunteers Jeff and Smriti joined St. Peters staffmember Carlos and 8 young men and 6 young women in 5th-8th grade to the Maple Sugar Days festival at Brookwood Farm in the Blue Hills in Milton, MA.
The days started at St. Peters, where we played some soccer to warm up and headed to the Blue Hills Houghton Pond parking lot, where we took a short (but fun) trolley ride to Brookwood Farm. There, DCR and Mass Audubon staff were on hand to welcome us and give us a video presentation on the history and process of maple sugaring, which goes all the way back to the Native Americans and early settlers in Massachusetts. From there, we went through several areas around the farm highlighting blacksmithing (with a working forge!), wood chopping, sap collecting with buckets on trees around the farm, and finishing with a variety of games in the field (cornhole and hoola hoop were a hit!) and visiting with the large horses pulling wagons along the property.
We then went into the large sugar shack where local experts were boiling large amounts of sap into maple syrup - amongst other facts, we learned it takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make just 1 gallon of syrup, and we all got to sample the fresh product! We then gathered outside to a large bonfire, where we sat around to warm up and sample some maple kettle corn, and also throw "hatchets" at a bullseye target.
From there, we took the trolley back to Houghton Pond an enjoyed a nice lunch of sandwiches at the picnic table, and got to run around for a bit. We then took a short drive back to the Blue Hills Trailside museum to visit with the river otter, snowy owls, deer, red fox, great horned owl, and other animals, and explore the inside of the museum for a bit. It was a chilly day, so we opted not to take the climb all the way up to the Blue Hills observation tower, but just walk around the grounds of the museum.
Everyone seemed to have a good time, and at least half the group got their first taste of maple syrup and found out how it was made! A link to view the photos is here