Sugaring Off!

There is no better way to relax than being outdoors under a bright blue sky. This is how I spent my morning today. In a truly Canadian manner, I was in Ontario hiking through snow covered trails with about 25 children under the age of 7 (no coffee, alcohol or beach in sight). I was on a field trip with my son’s school, Building Blocks Nursery school, at the Kortright Centre, Ontario’s premier environmental and renewable energy education and demonstration centre, learning about how maple syrup is made.

I had never been to the centre and found myself learning a lot as well as having fun. We started with a pretty basic movie about how maple trees might feel during the changing of the seasons. We then went for a great guided walk through the trees to see how the process of collecting sap to making syrup works. Sandra, our guide was wonderful at gearing her presentation and questions and answers to the children in the group. She asked them lots of questions – What is the symbol of Canada? Where do Canadians use a maple leaf? (on our flag, on our penny, our national hockey team, and the Toronto Maple Leafs to name a few), when a tree is too old for tapping is it still useful? She led us around the trail stopping at specific locations to teach the children how to tap a maple tree, the types of spouts they have used, how sap is caught from the tree and turned into maple sugar and maple syrup. We could see the pails hanging from the trees to catch the sap – or so we thought. As we walked closer to the sugar shack we could see blue and green pipes running through the forest. The sap now runs through these tubes downhill into the valley directly into the sugar shack.

A few little facts that I picked up:
A maple tree needs to be 40 years old before it can be tapped with 1 hole for collecting sap.
A maple tree can have a maximum of 4 spouts tapped into it (meaning it is at least 160 years old).
Maple syrup is mostly water with a little bit of sugar.
No one really knows how maple syrup was first discovered.

The Kortright Centre is hosting their Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival from March 5th to April 10th. There are lots of activities for parents and children to learn more about our truly Canadian gift from nature – maple syrup.


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