Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Learn About Maple Sugaring at Wild Center This Weekend

Maple BucketThis last weekend of midwinter school break merits a stop at Tupper Lake’s Wild Center. Along with its natural playground, animal encounters and naturalist-led excursions, there is a wide range of organized events to fill the days.

February 22 is all about animal tracking. We have gone on many of these guided trips and are always excited to learn more about the telltale signs of Adirondack animals. Even though my children may have a better grasp than most children their age regarding animal signs, there is always something they learn from a visit to the Wild Center.

On February 23, the Wild Center, in cooperation with the Adirondack Museum, will be demonstrating regional maple sugaring artifacts.  For local residents there is a free pancake breakfast and sugaring workshop that will focus on the Northern NY Maple Project.

The Northern NY Maple Project began as a cooperative partnership between the Wild Center, Paul Smith’s VIC and Cornell Sugar Maple Research and Extension Program at Uihlien. Last May the maple season ended with The Wild Center collecting 5,635.8 gallons of sap over 55 days from 53 households with 519 taps and made 121 gallons of local maple syrup.

When I first moved to the area I took a workshop from Cornell Cooperative Extension even though I thought I had a good handle on how to go about turning maple sap into syrup. The most important pieces of information I brought home were the shared stories of what not to do.

If you can’t be part of the local community maple project, but are interested in trying sugaring, Cornell University Uihlein Forest Director Michael Farrell will be signing copies of his new book, The Sugarmaker’s Companion: An Integrated Approach to Producing Syrup From Maple, Birch and Walnut Trees on the 23rd as well. This manual also delves into organic certifications, profitable business models as well as maple as a sustainable alternative to highly processed sweeteners.

My family continues to tap our maple trees each spring and enjoy the benefits of all the time-consuming work that is part of making maple syrup.  It is not an easy task, but the routine is always looked forward to with pleasure.

Now anyone can use the Wild Center’s vast experience before committing to his or her own backyard maple project. While at the Wild Center don’t forget to use the free snowshoes (with your paid admission) and hit the many trails surrounding the property.

Photo of the Wild Center’s Community Maple Project used with the permission of Diane Chase, AdirondackFamilyTime.com 

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Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

6 Responses

  1. Tom says:

    Nothing says “wild Adirondacks” like maple syrup production. Lets tap the wilderness.

    • John Warren says:

      Maybe you could start by tapping the trees along the road in front of your house.

      • AdkBuddy says:

        Just curious John. Do you know who Tom is? Maybe he does tap his trees. And why not tap the wilderness? Promote some sustainable economic production in the Adirondacks.

      • Tom says:

        Sorry, I was being sarcastic. I have been disappointed that the Wild Center has decided to focus on utilizing the wild intead of focusing on natural systems. I think the Blue Mountain museum is already doing a great job with cultural history. I hoped the Wild Center would be the one to focus on natural history.

        And I do tap trees myself.

        • John Warren says:

          I thought I sensed some sarcasm there. I’m in the sugar bush today.

          I think the community maple project is one of the best programs happening in the Adirondacks. It connects people with their food, the importance of the forest around them, their neighbors, and their natural history museum – I think that all leads to a better understanding of the natural systems.

          You may have noticed that the Adirondack Museum has moved toward a much more integrated culture-nature approach as well. A museum audience is really much wider than it’s subject area, and everyone is needed to thrive. I’ve seen some horribly wayward programming at museums through my role as editor of the The New York History Blog; I think these folks are getting it pretty well right.

  2. Randy says:

    Just read an article that detailed that for centuries we’ve been tapping for syrup the wrong way, if by wrong you mean by not using modern technology. Apparently, the sap runs from the roots UP the tree, not the other way around, when it’s sap season. Tapping closer to the ground (and if you’re a commercial producer, using vacuum pumps) will yield more sap, and this can be done to younger and much older trees. It was in the most recent issue of “The Week” magazine. Verrrrrry interesting. Either way I always look forward to sugaring season. Yum!!

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