By Zack Lamothe.
Photos from Osamequin’s Facebook page.
(Pronounced “oh suh MEE kwin” Osamequin Farm’s name comes from the “great leader,” Massasoit Ousamequin of the Pokanoket nation.)
There are no two ways about it–Osamequin Farm in Seekonk is an extra special place. Instead of a farm with one function, Osamequin is multi-faceted in addressing the needs and interests of the community. From pick-your-own blueberries to selling produce at the farm stand to providing a cooperative farming program to hosting private events, Osamequin’s agricultural reach is vast. Winter and early spring, the months of hibernation, are devoid of visitors on most farms. This is not so at Osamequin Farm. The community maple program is in full swing this season.
Over the past few years, the farm’s maple trees have been tapped, leading to the current maple program, a community initiative that has become extremely popular. Farm director Sarah Turkus relates, “It’s one of our favorite ways to spend time with friends in the cold months–gathered around the boil, breathing in the warm steam and watching the process unfold.” As the farm is community-based, it is yet another way for the public to be included, even during the dormant months. It is also a great way to introduce the idea of maple tapping to folks who may be hesitant to start it themselves.
Sarah continues, “The process is quite simple, but it can be daunting to undertake if you’ve never experienced it before, so we are happy to serve as an introduction space.” In this way, once individuals try it for themselves and learn the process, they can take their newfound skills to their own grove of maples. Many of the parcels of land that abut the farm are large, home to several maple trees. This process has allowed the farm’s neighbors to learn the maple sugaring process, with the goal to eventually continue the tradition on their land.
The community response has been wildly enthusiastic, with so many folks wanting to actively partake. The community maple boil had to be capped at twenty-five families this year due to the size of the farm’s homemade wood-burning evaporator, but they hope to expand in the future. Even so, lots of people showed up just for the maple tapping demonstration. Sarah hypothesizes, “I think people are eager to find ways to be outdoors and engaged with nature in the winter.”
The Community Maple Boil is one of the newest programs on the farm. It started with a walk on the farm in October during which participants learned how to identify the types of trees, how to differentiate among the numerous varieties of maples, and how to determine the health of the tree. The program showed the community how to tap a tree and gave out tapping kits for the participants to use at home.
During Sundays in February and into early March, the participants bring the sap that they have gathered from their own trees to put into the farm’s evaporator to be boiled down along with the sap that is gathered at the farm. The final product, the exquisite golden syrup, will be shared among those individuals that contributed sap to the boil. On March 6th, the final boil date, Dancing Star, of the Pokanoket tribe, will be present. She will relate stories of her community’s long-held tradition of tapping the maple trees in this region. Regarding the event, Sarah, beaming, notes, “It will be so special to taste syrup representing the whole community’s trees!”
Osamequin Farm is located at the corner of Walnut and Prospect streets in Seekonk. The upcoming maple boil dates are Sundays: February 27th and March 6th, 2022.
80 Walnut Street