Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Back to the Sugarbush

Maple forests in @TRCA_Events #Toronto and Region Conservation Areas are starring in the Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival which is now taking place at Kortright Centre for Conservation and Bruce's Mill Conservation Area. The trees start to draw the sap from the roots and in spring the sap rises up the trunk and a hole drilled in the tree releases the sweet water into collecting buckets. Posted by James Hamilton and Joe Hamilton.
The new method of sap collection - plastic tubes run from tree to tree and collect in large tanks
Metal tap buckets hang from the maple trees

As the temperatures warm and the freeze-thaw cycle starts to release the sap in ever greater quantities the the forest trails in the TRCA parks is the perfect place for learning the history and processes for gathering and turning the sap into maple syrup. Wandering through the demonstration areas you can see how the indigenous peoples discover sweetwater, watch pioneer demonstrations - including the boiling sap in the three large cast iron kettles smoking over open fires, and seeing an early evaporator turn the large holding tanks full of sap into the sweet syrup. Don't forget to try the free sample of maple syrup.
Tiny ponies give the children a thrill
The horse drawn wagon waits to head out onto the trail

In the visitor's centre you can visit the gift shop, buy some pancakes and watch entertainment like face painting, balloon twister, reptile and magic shows. With additional fees you can let your children ride small ponies, or enjoy a horse drawn wagon ride.  
At the sweetwater discovery station children can add hot stones into the tree bowl to bring the sap to a boil
You can try your hand at manually drilling a post to see how the holes are made and the tree is tapped
Collecting the sap from buckets in the forest required yokes to haul the sap back to the kettles. The hard work would be moving the sap and cutting the firewood necessary to boil the sap for hours at a time

The large evaporator moves the sap through several channels until the sap becomes maple syrup
Watching the demonstration at the Sugar Shack

The festival is open during March Break and on weekends from March 1 to April 6, 2014, with a special Maple Syrup by Lamplight event on Saturday, March 22 at 7:30 pm. Check their website for hours and costs and 'tap into spring'.
A chickadee comes close to the bird feeding stations
And I just found out that Kortright has a Raptor Centre with Falcons, Owls and Solo the Eagle (above)
This owl keeps asking who we were. The Centre is just past the Sugarbush Shop
Directions to other points of interest

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