Not long after the New Year celebrations have ended and Maine hunkers down for several more weeks of winter, some farmers and landowners across the state turn their attention to maple sugar season. Depending on the weather, maple trees start to release their sweetness anytime between February and April, and there’s a lot of work to be done to prepare for collecting the sap and boiling it down into syrup.
Maple Sugaring 101 is a three-week program open to current 4-H’ers ages 12 and up who are interested in learning about the maple sugaring process and live in Somerset, Piscataquis, Penobscot, and Waldo counties. Participants will learn about forest management, tapping trees, transporting sap, using an evaporator, grading and storing syrup, and operating a maple sugaring business.
Each week, participants will learn about the process and connect with other young maple sugar makers through online meetings and in-person workshops led by Extension and University of Maine experts. Online meetings are scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesdays: Feb. 22, March 1 and March 8. On-site workshops where participants can gain hands-on experience will be held Saturdays with the following schedule:
— Feb. 25 at local sugar houses in each county
— March 4 at the University of Maine’s Thomas J. Corcoran Sugar House in Old Town
— March 11 at the local county Extension office or other location suitable for creating value-added products (TBD)
Maple sugaring is very weather-dependent. However, these dates are likely to be suitable for maple sugaring activities in many parts of the state.
Registration is required; there is no cost. For more information, to register or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact your county office:
— Penobscot or Piscataquis County: Sheila Norman, email@example.com; 207-942-7396 or 207-564-3301.
— Somerset County: Karen Giles, firstname.lastname@example.org; 207-474-9622.
— Waldo County: Sadee Mehuren, email@example.com; 207-342-5971.
General questions about the program can be directed to Andrew Hudacs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-581-8204.