A “Sweet” Protest

In New England, mid to late February is the start of the maple syrup making season.

Up until the Civil War, using maple sugar was an act of political protest for many northern abolitionists, who refused to use cane sugar produced by slave colonies in the Caribbean. New England forests had been over logged to build ships for the slave trade of the era. Abolitionists attempted to reseed decimated areas with maple trees, and use maple sugar rather than cane for their needs.

The “Sap Castle” in Rutland, MA welcomes visitors to view the sugaring process and learn about its history during February and March.

The family living in this house have been making maple syrup for three generations.
Two kinds of taps: traditional metal and modern plastic.
The sap castle in operation, with smoke from the wood-fired stove billowing out of the chimney.
The sap boiler, also called the sap evaporator.
The wood fire is kept roaring!
Final filtering.
Testing the sugar content of the syrup.
This simple window display shows the grades of syrup.
The 24/7 self service maple syrup box. It runs on the honor system.
Choose your syrup, and slide your payment through a nearby slot.
A rock “maple leaf” guards the castle.

11 thoughts on “A “Sweet” Protest

  1. I find it heartening that this business is still run by trusting people to be honest. I hope that trust won’t be disappointed. The different hues of maple are beautiful.

    1. It is heartening, and in the Summer quite a number of farmstands in the area run on the honor system. I’m glad that the local foods movement is gaining more traction!

    2. It is heartening, and many local farm stands run this way in the Summer. I’m glad the whole local foods movement is gaining traction here.

    1. Thanks! It’s a Spring thing, the temperature has to be just right. When I was visiting, the owners said they liked maple syrup in their coffee. That sounded unlikely to me, but I tried it, and loved it. Live and learn! πŸ˜‰

  2. What an interesting process. That bit of history reveals so many compled linkages – forest tree felling to ships to slave trade to sugarcane, and that using maple syrup was a form of abolitionist protest. Fascinating.

    1. I wasn’t aware of this history myself before I visited there. It is fascinating. Plus, I took the owner’s advice, and now put maple syrup in my coffee. Yum!

Leave a Reply