At Natick Farm, Kids Help Keep Maple Sugaring Tradition Alive

NATICK, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — It's maple sugaring season in New England, and one Metro West organic farm is carrying on a tradition dating back five decades—getting children involved along the way.

Natick Community Organic Farm is teaching maple sugaring to students of all ages, bringing kids in to every step of the process.

Those young students do it all, from setting up the buckets on the outside of the trees, to collecting the sap, to bringing it to the "Sugar Shack," where they boil the water out of the sugar mixture and then caramelize the sugar into maple syrup.

For 13-year-old Marcello, the end product makes it all worthwhile.

"It's a lot of work, but it totally pays off," he told WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe. "It tastes so good!"

But Trish Wesley Umbrell, the farm's Assistant Director of Internal Operations, said it's about much more than making a delicious syrup.

"It teaches young people to take responsibility, be accountable for what they're doing," she said. "They learn self-initiative. It's a wonderful life lesson."

Antonio, 15, has been spending three days a week at the farm for the last four years, and he said it's been a life-changing experience.

"I see my future like, me farming, me on a farm, somewhere in Vermont, definitely doing some sugar-related stuff," he said.

Umbrell said the weather has to be just right for the sap to flow.

"The nights have to be below freezing, and the days above freezing, to trigger that sap to come up from the roots," she said. "If it was warmer today, it would be going 'plink! plink! plink!' into the bucket."

The farm is offering sugaring tours from February 21 to March 22, and is holding their "Maple Magic" day on February 29. To learn more—or even become a member—visit

WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports

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