The buckets are hung on the maples with care, in hopes that spring soon will be here.
If you’ve ever doused your pancakes in maple syrup during a Camp Treetops summer, then you’ve enjoyed the delicious bounty of North Country School’s sugar maple sap harvest. And if you’ve ever stacked firewood by the sugar shack, you’ve helped make that maple syrup possible.
The process behind maple syrup production is a cycle that bridges Camp and School, and nature and people. While campers are diving into Round Lake, horseback riding in our fields, or hiking up our nearby mountains, the sugar maples in our sugarbush are busy making sap. As campers stack wood, those trees will continue producing sap until the temperature drops and the leaves begin to fall.
Once winter settles in, we wait as spring slowly approaches the Adirondacks. That’s when tree tapping begins. This year, Garden Manager Tess Faller and Farm Intern and Camp and NCS alum Nick Waddington (CTT 09-13, NCS 10-13) were out in our sugarbush in late February, tapping trees and hanging buckets. Once the daytime temperatures get into the 40s during the day and drop below 20 at night, the sap starts flowing—and filling those buckets.
About six-hundred trees have been tapped this sugaring season. If all goes well, Tess said she hopes that will yield eighty gallons of syrup. Since it takes about forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, that means students will be helping collect and boil some 3,200 gallons of sap. Last year’s yield was sixty-nine gallons, which took about 2,760 gallons of sap to produce.
Where does all of that syrup go? Camp and School use about a gallon a week between the dining room and baking projects in the Teaching and Learning Kitchen. It’s a hit year after year, and campers, students, and staff all enjoy it.
This year it was Nick’s first time tapping maple trees here, but as a camper he has stacked wood to set up NCS students for the spring boil. Nick, who will be a camp counselor this summer, said he’s enjoyed closing the loop; the Camp Treetops, North Country School connection that so exemplifies the Adirondack community we have here.