April 17, 2007

Maple Sugaring Report

Dave has completed the sugaring run and his report out on the feasibility of the project. Here are his cheerful, optimistic and detailed thoughts.

Project: A preliminary study to determine the viability of an annual student and staff maple sugaring operation as an educational tool for the New Hampton School by running a small scale maple operation on Burleigh Mountain.

The figures from this year:

  • 16 taps in 9 maple trees
  • Over 120 gallons of syrup boiled
  • Syrup yield: about 3 gallons of varying quality
  • Help from 12 NHS and local community members
Is maple sugaring is possible with tree resources available on the New Hampton campus (Burleigh Mountain maple trees were all logged off ten years ago)
  • Yes! 50-60 taps on campus (excluding in front of Academic Row)
  • Another 100-150 taps readily available in the village
  • 20-50 taps on Burleigh Mntn.
Quantity of sap available
  • ~2000 gal
  • would make 50 gal of syrup
  • could sell for $3000
Amount of fire wood needed to boil sap to syrup
  • 4 cords
  • Easily taken from Burleigh Forest
Feasibility of student involvement
  • See below
Viability of existing sap boiler system
  • Not viable for larger operation
Potential future financial considerations
  • -$3000 for initial start up
  • -$500 per year following
  • +$3000 gross
  • +$2500 per year
Institutional barriers and opportunities
  • Insurance coverage
  • Student involvement (see below)
  • Tie in to “Local Application”
Potential detrimental and unanticipated side effects of the project to school property, personnel, image and campus attractiveness
  • As long as the trees tapped are in good health, they can handle being tapped with no problem.
  • The risk is that personnel running the project will not get much sleep in March because the run is so good!
  • If you like the look of traditional New England maple buckets, then there is no image/attractiveness risk.
  • Potential risk of students tampering with sap
Student Involvement Opportunities (and barriers):
  • Students would be involved with a Maple sugaring project through academic classes, (the proposed) Experiential Week, and as an SLP Independent Study.
  • Biology/Ecology: Opportunities for curricular crossover in ecology and biology who could participate and study the biological response of maple trees to the changing seasons.
  • Ecology: Ecology students could also participate by tracking the dates of the run each year, quantity of sap, and which trees are producing most. This data could then be used to help track the effects of Global Warming right here in New Hampton.
  • Economics (Math IV): Students could participate in calculating potential profit/losses, develop a marketing plan that takes into account the schools mission, and even participate in getting the syrup onto the shelves of local merchants.
  • Essential Exploration Week (a project week)
  • At the end of spring vacation, students can participate in various aspects of the maple sugaring process, and research the larger industry and the changes it is going through
  • SLP:
  • A student could take leadership and ownership in setting up and operating a maple sugaring operation culminating in educational service to the public on NH “Sugar Shack Open House” in which neighbors can visit the operation
  • Barriers: The big risk with sugaring is that much of the actual run takes place over the spring vacation. This would necessitate that an SLP student be a day student so he or she could help over the break. Usually, however, the run overlaps with school after the break, which makes the eWeek idea feasible. Ecology and Bio students would certainly have trouble tracking data if the run only happened over the break.

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