Last Saturday March 12th the School Year Ambassadors (SYA) went to Somerville for the 10th anniversary of the maple syrup festival organized by Groundwork Somerville (GWS). Prior to the festival we helped GWS collect sap from maple trees that were located over at the Tufts University campus. The trees were already tapped so depending on the weather we would go out and collect the sap. On Warm days we would collect around five to ten gallons of sap and on colder days we would collect less than five. If the temperature was below 32 degrees we wouldn’t even bother to go out because the sap freezes inside the tree at that temperature. For some of SYA participants it was our first time seeing sap so we confused it with water LOL! Even after we tasted it, since the sweet taste was so faint, we thought it was water mixed with sugar!
During the festival each team member had different tasks. Diego was informing people about maple syrup and all the cool things that were going on in the festival. Gabriel and Raldison were teaching people how to tap a tree, starting with the drilling of about an inch deep and placing the spile in the tree to draw out the sap. They would demonstrate it to adults and kids and also invite them try it out by themselves. And lastly Marcus was leading people to the ladder which overlooked the the boiler in which we were dropping the sap into in order to boil it down into syrup. While people got on the ladder and looked at the sap getting boiled, he explained how the boiler worked “there’s two parts of the boiler. You put the sap on the top part and it then slowly goes down in the big one which was wood fired. The reason why it’s like that is because you don’t want to drop all the sap into the big one because it will cool the sap that was boiling down.”
After experiencing all the steps of making maple syrup we understand why maple syrup is expensive for what seems to be a very little amount. In about two to three months, with the collaboration of others, we collected more than 100 gallons of sap. You would think that after collecting that much sap you’d be able to get large amounts of syrup but the sap to syrup ratio is 40:1 gallons! It is ridiculous how much work you have to put in in order to get such little amounts of syrup so after going through the process of making syrup I think we’ll appreciate it more than before.