The varied resources of the New Milford Youth Agency have been tapped by the Friends of Sullivan Farm.

The agency's coming year maple sugaring operation at the 106-acre, New Milford-owned farm site along Park Lane (Route 202) will be directed in unison.

The Youth Agency will add its expertise in producing the maple syrup and sugar, while the Friends run the operation's educational program.

"We're looking at a collaboration," said Mark Mankin, executive director of the Youth Agency. "We've been doing it (production) for 30 years and it makes sense for us to continue the production end of things."

In July of 2011, the non-profit Friends of Sullivan Farm assumed management oversight of the farm , which had for years been farmed and managed by the Youth Agency.

"This collaboration is perfect," said Katy Francis, the liaison between the Friend's executive board and the farming operations.

"Yes, the Friends of Sullivan Farm took over managing the farm but our mission is education and sustainable agriculture," she added. "What better partnering for that?"

Mr. Mankin noted there are certain skills required and concerns about producing the maple syrup -- a food product that will be sold to consumers.

The machinery used in the production process is high tech and Youth Agency staff is trained in its use, he explained.

Farm manager Joe Listro will shadow Mr. Mankin, learning the maple sugaring process. Youth from the Youth Agency will video tape the process and it will also be chronicled in writing.

"This way the sugaring part of the farm will never be lost," Ms. Francis explained. "We will have a manual to pass along to whoever comes next in managing the property."

Mr. Mankin is glad to see the Friends "taking over and reinvigorating" the educational aspect.

"In the glory days, we'd bring 800 schoolchildren through during the season," he recalled. "They'd learn the history of the process from Native American techniques up to the current day."

The Sugar Weekend, held annually at the farm, would draw up to 300 tourists, he recalled, who would tour the Sugar House and hear about its history.

Ms. Francis said the educational component will be facilitated by Jenna Tomiello, the Friend's part-time educational coordinator.

Ms. Tomiello has maple syruping background, having conducted classes and demonstrations.

Some "family oriented weekends" will be included along with tours for schoolchildren. Workshops on maple sugar candy making are possible.

Formal "Maple Sugaring at Sullivan Farm" open houses at the Sugar Shack are planned three weekends in February and March.

"It's become an institution," Mr. Mankin said. "It's a process unique to this area. And there aren't a lot of operations left that use wood like major operations did 100 years ago."

"Everyone sees the value of keeping this going," he concluded.; 860-355-7322