Blackstone Valley Sugaring Association
Opens New Sugar
Valley Sugaring Association is a non-profit organization
whose mission is to support and foster maple sugaring
education and activities and to the preservation of maple
trees throughout the Blackstone Valley of Massachusetts and
Uxbridge residents officially created the Blackstone Valley
Sugaring Association in 2006 and they work closely with
Ranger Suzanne Buchanan who coordinates the Volunteer in
Parks (VIP) program through the John H. Chafee Blackstone
River Valley National Heritage Corridor and CorridorKeepers.
Last year the program logged 41,980 hours of volunteers’
time in the Blackstone River Valley – the equivalent of over
20 full time employees. “The VIP’s insure that we have a
consistent and well trained group of volunteers who are
available to help us with demonstrations and other aspects
of sugaring throughout the season,” Valerie Paul explained.
association organizes programs that tap maple trees in the
Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park and boil the
sap down to make maple syrup. Maple Sugar Days at the state
park have averaged two thousand visitors over their series
of weekend demo days scheduled through February and March.
Through a grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Fix
It First Friends Program, Bill Paul was able to purchase a
professional-sized indoor evaporator and to coordinate and
purchase the materials needed to build a new sugar house.
“The lumber used for our Sugar House was actually harvested
from the Blackstone Gorge when several trees were removed to
make room for the site’s new parking area,” he proudly
A pancake breakfast
is held each February or March.
collaboration with the Rainbow Palette also based in
Uxbridge has developed into a very special art show at River
Bend Farm starting with the pancake breakfast and throughout
Maple Sugar Days. Coordinated by local artist Laura
Cenedella, a number of local artists have hand painted
scenes from the Blackstone Valley on vintage maple
buckets. Visitors will be able to bid on the buckets through
a Silent Auction which will run through the end of this
year’s program. Proceeds from the silent auction will
benefit the BVSA and the Rainbow Palette's TLC program for
Earliest evidence of maple sugaring in the region comes from Native
Americans tapping maple trees as early as 1609. A thrown tomahawk
probably led to discovery of these frozen little icicle treats of
sweetened sap. Though sap itself is not sweet, the boiling or freezing
of it adds a sweetened taste - something you’ll probably never forget
There’s a certain “knack” to maple sugaring. Sap won’t run if
it’s too cold or too warm, so finding that delicate balance can be a
bit tricky for novices. A clear Spring day, with thawing evenings is
perhaps the right time to tap a hole into a sugar maple and let the sap
drip slowly into a bucket. Then another and another because it takes
35-40 gallons of sap to boil down to one gallon of syrup! Sap can run
sporadically from the first spring thaw until the buds turn into leaves
from mid-March until April. Light syrup is generally the highest quality
while the darker syrups are used for cooking.
There are four kinds of maples throughout the region: Sugar Maple
(Hard Maple), Red Maple ( Swamp Maple), and Ash Leafed Maple ( Box
Elder),Silver Maple (soft maple). Properly cared for sugar maples can be
tapped at 40 years of age and will yield sap for 100 years or more.
Only about $2 million in revenue is derived in Massachusetts from
sugaring - but perhaps this oldtime favorite will lead local
entrepreneurs to reconsider a small operation. The River Bend Farm, in
cooperation with the National Heritage Corridor offer actual
instructional programs each March at River Bend Farm, Oak St, Uxbridge.
Recipes, wholesalers, process instructions can all be found at