On Tuesday, March 8th, both Primary and Junior classes went up to Wintergreen Resort to see the sugar maple trees. The Wintergreen Nature Foundation has been experimenting with collecting maple syrup. Virginia has sugar maples along ridge lines and at higher elevations. This maple syrup experiment is on a small scale – last year, they made half a gallon (and collected the sap with snowshoes and a sled due to the big snowfall). This year, quite a few trees had collection bags, taps or tubes on them. The students were treated to a slide show, during which they learned about the different grades of maple syrup, the boiling process, how the Native Americans were the first to make maple syrup, and other interesting facts. It takes forty (!) gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. The sugar content of the sap is what determines the grade of the syrup. Early sap tends to produce lighter grades of syrup, and the late spring sap produces the darker grades. The darker grades (B & C) are used for candy, extracts and baking.
We also got to hike and see the maple trees. There were two hikes – on both we got to see the trees and lots of rushing water (Wintergreen got almost four inches of rain over the weekend). Students were able to check out the taps, fill up some collection buckets, and see a piping system set up to collect sap from many trees at once.