Grade A Weekend

March 15, 2010

For the past 6 weeks I have been teaching energetic second graders about maple syrup.  The curriculum included learning how sap flow depends on termperature and the seasons, how to make a temperature graph, how maple sap was discovered to be full of sugar, the layers of a tree, how to tap a maple tree, how to measure a tree, what maple sap tastes like, and how to turn sap into syrup. Where can you find maple sap in a city? Well, right on Tufts campus.

Groundwork Somerville, a nonprofit organization with a mission to develop community-based programs that sustain and improve the physical enironment, heads the Somerville Maple Syrup Project. The project enlists volunteers to tap maple trees (this year 7 in total, 6 on Tufts campus), collect the sap from the buckets that hang from the trees, teach kids about the process, and have a big boil down event.  The Boil Down took place this past Friday and Saturday at the Community Growing Center and was great fun.  We ate apples and waffle sticks dipped in Somerville’s own maple syrup.  Community members dropped by to learn about the project, kids got a chance to use an old fashioned hand drill, and we all crowded around the open door of the evaporator to try and dry our feet.  This year’s batch took over 24 hours to boil down (120 gallons of sap yielding nearly 3 gallons of syrup) and will be sold at the Union Square farmers market this summer.

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