March 25th was Sugar Sunday (or Maple Sunday) here in New England and I spent a lovely day in Maine at Goranson Farm in Dresden. What is Sugar Sunday, you ask? It’s celebration of all things maple, when sugar shacks in the region open their doors and hold events to share the maple love.
Sugar Sunday started in Maine 35 years ago, as a way for maple syrup producers to educate the public about sugaring and invite them to their farms. Maine Maple Sunday is always the fourth Sunday in March, so mark your calendars now for 2019! You can find a list of participating sugar shacks at the Maine Maple Producers website at http://mainemapleproducers.com/. If you are interested in visiting a New Hampshire based sugar shack, heck out the New Hampshire Maple Producers website at https://nhmapleproducers.com/maple-month/.
Goranson Farm is a sweet place, they have a CSA, sell their syrup, and have one of the best Sugar Sunday events I have ever been to. Their website is located at https://goransonfarm.me/. The farm is run by Jan Goranson and Rob Johanson and their sons. It’s an old family farm that they have, over the years since 1985, turned into a lovely organic working farm. I did not get a chance to check out their wind farm, but they are wind powered!
We started the day in one of the hoop greenhouses. As soon as you walked in the smell of fresh doughnuts wakes your nose right up. Maple glazed, fresh out of the fryer, these doughnuts were fluffy and light and really wonderful. I didn’t get any pictures because I inhaled mine too fast.
As we made our way through the greenhouse, the next table was sugar sweets. Maple sugared almonds and my favorite, maple sugar candy. Absolutely delicious. I wish I had gotten more, because as much as I try to savor them, I always eat them way too fast. We worked our way down to the seating area and watched the band, while sampling some vanilla ice cream with syrup on it. My niece kept herself occupied coloring some little books on maple syrup the farm had laid out for kids.
After the yummy food tent, we stood in line for the sugar shack tour. The owner of the farm, Ron Johanson, was boiling syrup as we watched. Goranson Farm does wood fired boiling, and the inside of the sugar shack was nice and cozy. Groups of about 25 people were let inside at a time, while he talked about his life as a sugar farmer, and how syrup is made from start to finish, and how syrup is filtered and graded and sold. It was an informational talk, and they had wonderful signage explaining things as well. You could the enormous evaporator at work, and clouds of steam puffed out of the chimney constantly!
After the sugar shack we walked around a bit and watched the farm dogs chasing each other around. They offered hay rides as well, but it was chilly and we were ready for lunch.
At home we make our own syrup, though nowhere near that scale! We only make a few gallons a year for personal use. Our set up is very small, made from a recycled oil barrel that a friend welded for us. We have 6 maples tapped this year and do the main boiling outside. Doing it inside makes everything sticky! We do our best with filtering but there’s still a bit of sugar sand in each bottle, but it doesn’t really bother me.
If you are in New England during the third weekend of March make sure you check out your local sugar shack to see what activities they’re offering. In New Hampshire, where I live, Sugar Sunday lasts 2 weekends. I think next year I’ll go to one weekend local, and the next weekend back to Maine, as I simply fell in love with Goranson Farm.