BASKING RIDGE, NJ - Continuing a tradition in the Northeast United States begun centuries ago by native Americans and colonists, the Somerset County Park Commission invites children and adults to a 90-minute program to witness how maple trees are tapped, learn about sap collecting methods from the past and present, and experience the boiling process that produces New Jersey maple syrup.
Programs take place at the Environmental Education Center Sugar Shack at 190 Lord Stirling Road on Saturdays and Sundays, Feb.22 and 23; Feb.29; March 1; and March 7 and 8 and March 14 and 15. The program is free with a suggested donation of $1 per person.
Saturday Maple Sugar program times are 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Sunday maple sugar program times are noon and 2 p.m. Participants should allow at least 20 minutes to walk from the center to the sugar shack. Organized groups, such as Scouts, may schedule demonstrations during one of the time blocks by contacting the EEC at 908-722-1200, ext. 5332.
The Somerset County Park Commission Sugar Shack is located following a one-half mile walk through the forest from the Environmental Education Center building. Along the way, visitors will witness the Great Swamp in a setting that summer visitors never see. Trails are well-marked and easy to follow. The site is accessible to mobility-impaired individuals with 48-hour notice providing that weather and ground conditions permit.
“The program explains the manufacturing process of maple syrup, its history, technology and food production. But, what I like most is that it is fun to be in the winter woods, smelling the sweetness coming from the sugar house and being near the warmth of the fire,” said Naturalist Rich Hoffman, coordinator of the program.
Information and trail conditions may be obtained by calling 908-722-1200, ext. 5002. Individuals with hearing impairments may call NJ Relay at 711.
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