A Sweet Sign of Spring

Gaining Ground taps for sap.

A sweet sign of Spring appeared on the lawn earlier this week when two metal buckets with lids were hung on large maple trees.  The warmer days and still-cool nights mean that the sap is beginning to run.

It’s sugaring season. 

The buckets and taps belong to Gaining Ground, a Concord non-profit that grows organic produce for shelters, food pantries, meal programs, and other hunger-relief programs throughout Greater Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, including Concord’s Open Table and Concord Food for Families.

Michelle de Lima, one of Gaining Grounds’ two new farm managers told Patch, “we are tapping over 120 sugar maples (and a handful of red maples) in Concord and Carlisle this year.”

A Gaining Ground team in very small tanker truck collects the sap, which is then boiled down to its syrupy state. The group built a sugarhouse in September 2009 at the Thoreau Birthplace site on Virginia Road for this purpose. 

Last season, Gaining Ground donated 30 gallons of syrup to the same eleven food pantries and meal programs to which it donates produce. “We hope to equal or exceed that amount this year, but of course it depends on the weather.”

If you want to try tapping in your own yard, taps have been available at Hardware. But Scott Vanderhoof will warn you about boiling the sap down in the house. One person who tried it went upstairs after hours of boiling to find the wallpaper peeling off the walls.


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