“Nature has its own way of providing us with sweeteners.”
That’s according to Five Rivers MetroParks, which has been tapping its maple trees for sap at Carriage Hill MetroPark, located at 7850 E. Shull Rd. in Dayton, for about 10 years, according to Rick Musselman, outdoor education director at Five Rivers. Dependent on weather, the maple sugaring season changes overtime, though is typically considered to last from February through the start of April.
According to Musselman, in order to be successful at maple sugaring there needs to be a freeze during the night, followed by a thaw during the day to get the sap flowing.
This year’s maple sugaring program is happening Saturday, Feb. 19 starting at 10 a.m. The event is free to attend and open to the public.
“What I like about it is, it has a little bit of everything,” said Musselman. “We come at it from the historical point of view, because we’re showing you how they would have done in the 1880s. … It’s got a natural history piece because we talk quite a bit about the trees, and the process of how the sap flows and how you tap a tree. Then, we also come at it from the how-to part, where we explain the process.”
Carriage Hill MetroPark is home to a Historical Farm, which Five River’s naturalists and educators maintain with practices that were used in the 19th century. The maple sugaring program will be done using traditional tapping tools from the 1880s, while still teaching attendees how they can identify and tap maple trees in their own backyard today.
With so many sides to the program, Musselman said there’s something for everyone at any interest level.
Beginning at 10 a.m. and running until 4 p.m., the program is designed to be drop-in friendly. Demonstrations showing how to boil sap down will be done throughout the day in addition to guided tours and more.
Musselman’s maple sugaring fast-facts:
1. When a tree is tapped for its sap, the practice takes less than 1% of the tree’s nutrients that it needs from the sap.
2. Sap flows up, not down. “When you’re catching the sap, it’s actually flowing up from the roots from moisture and water collected in the roots,” Musselman said. “It’s actually flowing up the tree to go up into the branches and out into the buds that are forming in the spring.”
3. Five Rivers uses the maple sugar harvested at Carriage Hill for cooking programs and other educational events on the Historic Farm throughout the year.
4. It takes 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup.
For information on the maple sugaring program, visit, metroparks.org.
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