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Fourth-graders learn art of making maple syrup

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Spring is trying to arrive in the area, and if you look closely in the woods, it is! Have you seen metal buckets hanging from trees? If you listen carefully, you will hear the ping of maple sap filling them up.

Fourth-grade students in Mrs. Harman’s and Ms. Virnig’s classroom at Eagle View Elementary School were working guests of Ron and Joan Johnson of their Lake Ossawinnamakee sugar bush last Thursday, April 18.

Jim Oraskovich gave the annual spring warning call to the kids, “The sweet water is running! The sweet water is running!”

He has been a teacher of the art of maple syrup with students many times. This year he teamed up with the Johnsons because their operation collects hundreds and even thousands of gallons of sap during the spring run.

Collecting began early in the morning in the snowy spring woods. Ron Johnson shared information about the history of turning sap into syrup. Students learned to identify a maple tree, the correct angle to drill a hole to hit the xylem and phloem where the sap flows to feed the tree, and how to put the bucket on the spile (the Johnsons use commercially prepared plastic bags with a metal top).

Some kids got to dump the clear fluid into big containers and everyone enjoyed watching the steaming sap boil down to the thicker sweet syrup. The Johnsons have rows of beautiful bottles and jars of amber liquid they’ve produced this spring that they share with family and friends.

Students and staff were treated to grilled hot dogs, lemonade, apple slices, pickles, chips and granola bars. The kids were also treated to vanilla ice cream smothered in maple syrup.

The students gobbled down their lunch and then played games in the deep snow before heading back to the classroom.

Aiden Spizzo said, “I’m going to learn how to do this so I can do it at my own home.”

Teacher Kathie Harman said, “Not only are we learning about maple syrup and the steps needed to produce a tasty treat, but look how much fun we are all having connecting to another generation and the camaraderie it brings.”

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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