Taking advantage of the campus’ natural resources, Hannah Katz ’21 and Asha Grossberndt ’21 began the first of many rounds of maple sugaring last week as part of their independent study in environmental studies. Borrowing the expertise of Makayla Spicer ’22, whose brother Michael Spicer ’21 runs a professional maple operation in Syracuse N.Y., and the support of Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Aaron Strong, Katz and Grossberndt have already tapped 17 trees in Hamilton’s glens.
“Hannah and I were looking to do something a little more hands-on for our last semester on campus,” Grossberndt said. When Strong told them that the Assistant Director of Outdoor Leadership Sarah Jillings was interested in maple sugaring, they were in. “It was exciting to try something new and be able to tie environmental education into [maple sugaring] too,” Grossberndt added.
Katz said that maple sugaring provides “another opportunity for students to get involved in things when there’s not much to do off campus right now.” Through their independent study, they hope to have a space for students to get to be part of experiential education on campus.
Last week marked the first round of sugaring, as Katz, Grossberndt, and Spicer tested out their maple sugaring systems before expanding their plan to the greater campus community. “Once we kind of figure all of [the logistics] out, students will be able to join people for sap collection and also on boil days and then taste the maple syrup, which is the ultimate goal — to make [syrup] and have people see what that process is like and to get to actually eat the fruit of their labor,” Grossberndt said.
Maple sugaring expert Spicer said she thinks that it definitely has potential for being a great season. “There’s been a lot of snow, which means there will be a lot of water in the ground, which is great for the plants,” she said. “We are kind of getting a late start, but hopefully the trees don’t bud too quickly, so we’ll have an extended season.”
Hamilton students who are interested in being a part of the maple sugaring program should watch for an all-campus email about participation in the coming weeks.
Follow along over the next few weeks as the Hamilton Communications Office tracks the progress of the maple sugaring season.