Learning to Sugar: 2014 After-School Maple Program

The Sugar Shack – Living the sweet life with Aaron Lefland from Weston Media Center Inc. on Vimeo.

 

kids tapping Each year, Land’s Sake teams up with 20 middle schoolers to produce our delicious maple syrup the good, old-fashioned way. This year’s maple syrup production was a huge success thanks to help from our students and volunteers from Weston and surrounding towns; with their help, we collected over 3500 gallons of sap to produce close to 80 gallons of syrup, available for sale at the farm stand (while supplies last).

Our season began in late January when we had help from both students and volunteers to tap approximately 250 trees. Participants learned how to correctly identify sugar maples, drill a hole for the spile, and hang the buckets. Once the buckets were hung, it was not long before the sap began to flow and the buckets were overflowing. With help from our team of 18 middle school students, we then began the process of turning sap into syrup.

Evaporator Sugar ShackStudents who participated in our after-school program learned about the entire process of sugaring: learning how to identify sugar maple trees, tapping the trees, collecting the sap, splitting and stacking firewood, boiling sap, and bottling syrup. During warm days, they could be seen around town collecting sap from the overflowing buckets. On colder days, the students learned how to split the wood used to feed the evaporator. Once there was enough sap in the tank and firewood ready to go, students fired up the evaporator and began boiling the sap. After many hours of boiling, the sap finished it’s transformation, and the students helped to filter and bottle the finished product.

Sugar ShackEach maple season ends around the last weeks of March, but not before our much anticipated Sugaring Off Festival. At this event, members from the community learned about the sugaring process through tours led by our maple students, enjoyed sausages and pancakes drenched in syrup, and were able to purchase Land’s Sake’s pure 100% maple syrup. For their hard work, students also earned a small share of the profits from maple syrup sales.

sugaring off kids aaronOverall, the kids loved their experience, and gained confidence and new skills as well as new friends.  They made a great team and we were very proud of them! If you’ll have a middle schooler who might be interested in our After School Maple Program next winter or if you’re interested in getting involved during maple season, let us know! We’ll keep you on our maple mailing list.

 

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