It's maple sugaring time

Metroparks Feb
Move aside farm-to-table…tree-to-table is having a moment.

By Mimi Vanderhaven

Move aside farm-to-table…tree-to-table is having a moment.

Nothing heralds the sweet swan song of winter more than Maple Sugaring Weekends at Lake Metroparks Farmpark, set for Saturdays and Sundays, March 5-6 and 12-13.

Mimi took a personal tour recently given by her dear friend Andy McGovern, who is the events manager there. Mimi hopped on a wild and wooly wagon ride to the Woodland Center to see sap being collected through 1,000 taps and a network of tubing. The sap is then boiled down to form a syrup to make scrumptious maple syrup, candy and stirs. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

“Our 900 maple trees on the property are ready to tap when the conditions are just right (when Mother Nature and Old Man Winter decide),” he says. “The days have to be warmer, above freezing, and nights have to be below freezing.”

Although the process of getting the trees to give up their sap is similar to the way it’s been done for centuries, he explains that today we are much kinder to the trees.

“Native Americans taught the pilgrims to hack into the tree with an axe to create a ‘V’ shape,” he says. “Here at the Farmpark, we drill a tiny 5/16-inch hole and never tap close to the same spot the next year, so the hole heals over.”

After her tour, Mimi sat down for some heavenly pancakes drenched in—you guessed it—fresh maple syrup. A divine epicurean experience. And no guilt trips allowed, darling. Maple syrup is not only sky-high in luscious antioxidants, but is also loaded with nutrients like riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium and potassium.

Andy and his crew might not have earned a Michelin star just yet, but anyone with a sweet tooth who is fascinated by nature will have a ball these weekends.

Lake Metroparks Farmpark is located at 8800 Euclid Chardon Road (Route 6) in Kirtland. Maple Sugaring weekends are March 5, 6, 12 and 13, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Farmpark admission rates apply. Pancakes are served all day in the café. Groups are welcome.