Maple Sap Collection Team

According to experts, the sense of smell can trigger memories more than any other sense.  After a little research, I learned that this is called the Proust Effect.  For me, boiling maple sap is one of those smells that elicit strong memories.  It takes me back to my childhood growing up in western MA where we tapped the few maple trees in the yard.  It reminds me of ski weekends in VT with friends before kids.  We always stopped at a maple sugar house for a big pancake breakfast on our way home.  And when our kids were little and we still lived in MA, my husband and I would find maple sugar houses that served breakfasts on a muddy weekend in March.  It’s been a while since I’ve visited a working maple sugar house and inhaled that sweet smell.  But we do have one, close to home, and I’ve recently spent some time there. 

Flanders Nature Center and Land Trust in Woodbury was founded in 1963 by Natalie Van Vleck who was an artist, farmer, businesswoman, and environmentalist.  Of the 7 preserves and sanctuaries that the Land Trust owns, the Van Vleck Farm property is considered the main teaching campus and it is where the majority of activities happen.  The landscape at the Van Vleck Farm property includes fields, forests, ponds, and streams.  My visits in the past were mainly for hiking the easy trails, observing wildlife, and attending educational programs.  There are programs for adults, children, families, and school groups, as well as volunteer opportunities.  Some of these programs  include Wildlife and Trail Hiking series with master naturalists, Land Trust Hot Topics, 4-H Clubs, a Wildlife Photography Club, and community events like the annul Pancake Breakfast, which was Drive-Thru style this year. A visit to https://flandersnaturecenter.org/ will give you a complete list of upcoming activities.  

 This past week I decided to try something new at Flanders.  After receiving an email (you can sign up for the email list here) that the maple sap is flowing and volunteers are needed to collect it, I signed myself up.  I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into but that was half the fun of it.

Two crews go out about 5 days a week once the sap really gets flowing: one crew collects on the property in an area called the South Field and another crew collects from buckets that are hanging throughout the town of Woodbury.  If you take a drive through the lovely town you can’t miss seeing the metal buckets with “FNC” painted on them.  There are a lot of them!

I was assigned to the Downtown Crew and showed up the first day in the rain ready to go.  It was above freezing outside but not by much as I climbed in the front of pickup truck that had a 250 gallon holding tank strapped into the back.  There were four of us on this masked crew, me being the only newcomer.  The plan was to first visit all the homes where people had agreed to have their maples tapped and then finish up in the downtown area. 

I quickly learned that the sap should be clear and what it means if it’s not, that the holes are drilled into the south side of the tree and are drilled about 2 inches deep.  I also learned how to pump all the sap out of the holding tank on the truck and into another holding tank back to the sugar house.  A lot goes into this whole process and I was really beginning to appreciate that.  I was on the schedule to return the next day as well and again assigned to the Downtown Crew. 

The following day was much warmer, the sun was shining and I was feeling a little better about spending the day outside.  With a larger crew of six, we returned to all of the same buckets we had just collected from the day before and by late afternoon we had collected almost three times as much sap, about 135 gallons, as the day before.  What a difference the warmer temperatures and sunshine made on the amount of sap flowing from the maples.  The trees can produce up to a gallon of sap a day on a good day. Some of the buckets were actually quiet heavy and I felt like I had a good work out between the walking, lifting and pouring. The thing that really stood out to me was that this whole process, from tapping the trees to boiling it down to syrup, is a big commitment.  Once those trees are tapped the sap just flows and needs to be collected often if it’s going to be used. 

Mother Nature is giving us a wonderful gift and if we are hardworking, organized, and responsible we get to enjoy this sweet treat. Unfortunately I haven’t yet been able to return to the sugar house while the sap is boiling into syrup but when I do, I have a sense that I will feel a little bit of pride in knowing that I have contributed to this process, learned some things along the way, and connected with nature in a new way.  That will be a nice memory to add to the others.

Although this year’s maple sap collection is well under way, you may want to think about joining the crew next year.  In the meantime, check out the program of activities or enjoy a walk around the property.  There is a botany trial, very close to the sugar house, that is full of spring wildflowers!

Connecting with Nature – Andrea White

A little bit about me…Being outside in nature is where I am happiest and feel my best both mentally and physically. I enjoy exploring the many trails we have close to home and I hope to share some ideas of places to hike, stroll in the woods, or just sit quietly. I am passionate about sharing the positive impact that time away from our technology filled lives can have on our overall well-being and I’m excited to help the community find places to do that.
Need a recommendation? Feel free to email me at andrea_l_white@yahoo.com.

Maple Sap Collection Team

According to experts, the sense of smell can trigger memories more than any other sense.  After a little research, I learned that this is called the Proust Effect.  For me, boiling maple sap is one of those smells that elicit strong memories.  It takes me back to my childhood growing up in western MA where we tapped the few maple trees in the yard.  It reminds me of ski weekends in VT with friends before kids.  We always stopped at a maple sugar house for a big pancake breakfast on our way home.  And when our kids were little and we still lived in MA, my husband and I would find maple sugar houses that served breakfasts on a muddy weekend in March.  It’s been a while since I’ve visited a working maple sugar house and inhaled that sweet smell.  But we do have one, close to home, and I’ve recently spent some time there. 

Flanders Nature Center and Land Trust in Woodbury was founded in 1963 by Natalie Van Vleck who was an artist, farmer, businesswoman, and environmentalist.  Of the 7 preserves and sanctuaries that the Land Trust owns, the Van Vleck Farm property is considered the main teaching campus and it is where the majority of activities happen.  The landscape at the Van Vleck Farm property includes fields, forests, ponds, and streams.  My visits in the past were mainly for hiking the easy trails, observing wildlife, and attending educational programs.  There are programs for adults, children, families, and school groups, as well as volunteer opportunities.  Some of these programs  include Wildlife and Trail Hiking series with master naturalists, Land Trust Hot Topics, 4-H Clubs, a Wildlife Photography Club, and community events like the annul Pancake Breakfast, which was Drive-Thru style this year. A visit to https://flandersnaturecenter.org/ will give you a complete list of upcoming activities.  

 This past week I decided to try something new at Flanders.  After receiving an email (you can sign up for the email list here) that the maple sap is flowing and volunteers are needed to collect it, I signed myself up.  I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into but that was half the fun of it.

Two crews go out about 5 days a week once the sap really gets flowing: one crew collects on the property in an area called the South Field and another crew collects from buckets that are hanging throughout the town of Woodbury.  If you take a drive through the lovely town you can’t miss seeing the metal buckets with “FNC” painted on them.  There are a lot of them!

I was assigned to the Downtown Crew and showed up the first day in the rain ready to go.  It was above freezing outside but not by much as I climbed in the front of pickup truck that had a 250 gallon holding tank strapped into the back.  There were four of us on this masked crew, me being the only newcomer.  The plan was to first visit all the homes where people had agreed to have their maples tapped and then finish up in the downtown area. 

I quickly learned that the sap should be clear and what it means if it’s not, that the holes are drilled into the south side of the tree and are drilled about 2 inches deep.  I also learned how to pump all the sap out of the holding tank on the truck and into another holding tank back to the sugar house.  A lot goes into this whole process and I was really beginning to appreciate that.  I was on the schedule to return the next day as well and again assigned to the Downtown Crew. 

The following day was much warmer, the sun was shining and I was feeling a little better about spending the day outside.  With a larger crew of six, we returned to all of the same buckets we had just collected from the day before and by late afternoon we had collected almost three times as much sap, about 135 gallons, as the day before.  What a difference the warmer temperatures and sunshine made on the amount of sap flowing from the maples.  The trees can produce up to a gallon of sap a day on a good day. Some of the buckets were actually quiet heavy and I felt like I had a good work out between the walking, lifting and pouring. The thing that really stood out to me was that this whole process, from tapping the trees to boiling it down to syrup, is a big commitment.  Once those trees are tapped the sap just flows and needs to be collected often if it’s going to be used. 

Mother Nature is giving us a wonderful gift and if we are hardworking, organized, and responsible we get to enjoy this sweet treat. Unfortunately I haven’t yet been able to return to the sugar house while the sap is boiling into syrup but when I do, I have a sense that I will feel a little bit of pride in knowing that I have contributed to this process, learned some things along the way, and connected with nature in a new way.  That will be a nice memory to add to the others.

Although this year’s maple sap collection is well under way, you may want to think about joining the crew next year.  In the meantime, check out the program of activities or enjoy a walk around the property.  There is a botany trial, very close to the sugar house, that is full of spring wildflowers!

Connecting with Nature – Andrea White

A little bit about me…Being outside in nature is where I am happiest and feel my best both mentally and physically. I enjoy exploring the many trails we have close to home and I hope to share some ideas of places to hike, stroll in the woods, or just sit quietly. I am passionate about sharing the positive impact that time away from our technology filled lives can have on our overall well-being and I’m excited to help the community find places to do that.
Need a recommendation? Feel free to email me at andrea_l_white@yahoo.com.


Valid: 01/01/1970 - 01/01/1970

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