Outdoor Education

Haldane students help tap school’s maple trees

By Anita Peltonen

Last week, Haldane fourth-grade sap collectors had to snowshoe out to the sugar maples on campus to collect sap to make syrup. Now, they can walk out.

As well as tapping trees in the woods, farmer-in-the-classroom Carolyn Llewelyn and Sandy McKelvey, the school’s garden and outdoor coordinator, do demonstration taps for kindergarteners on two enormous maples at the back of the Haldane campus near the historic cemetery.

From one tree, they might get four gallons in 24 hours. At this time of year, says McKelvey, with the cold nights and warm days, each tree is like “a very leaky faucet.” In other words, near-perfect conditions. Each child is responsible for the data of their tree and know how much his or her tree produces each day.

The ratio of sap to syrup is 40 to 1. Students have collected 120 gallons so far, enough for 3.5 gallons of syrup. It is processed in the evaporator at the Taconic Outdoor Education Center. “We could not do it without them,” says McKelvey. John Stowell at the center has been the perfect partner for the school, she adds.

Inside, McKelvey leads fourth graders in maple-tree data lesson. She notes that the project incorporates skills in math, science, anthropology and literature — the students read excepts on sugaring from Little House in the Big Woods.

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