The Hope squirrels are no longer the only ones who get to use the maple trees in the Pine Grove for resources. A new initiative on campus is underway to promote sustainability. Senior Biology and Spanish double major Monica Elliott had the brilliant idea to extract the sap from our very own beloved maple trees and harvest syrup. The project, although not foreign to Michiganders (especially in the UP), is new to Hope’s campus and is an exciting venture for the Green Hope Team.
Members of the team placed two plastic spires (tubes) in the trees using screwdrivers. These were attached to buckets that collected the sap as it ran through the tree. This is the best time to collect the sap, as the fluctuating temperatures allow for easy collection. It runs through the trees at its highest volume during this time of the year. Every night for a week, the team collected the sap from the buckets. Straight from the tree, the sap is watery, but still has a distinctive maple syrup taste.
The team enjoyed their maple syrup collection with a pancake dinner this past Saturday. To prepare the sap and transform it into syrup, the team had to boil it for most of the day on Saturday. Although the process from tree to table is lengthy, the ability to use a resource that comes directly from Hope’s Pine Grove is very exciting.
If you are interested in this sustainable agriculture project or wish to become involved with initiatives like this on campus, search “Campus Sustainability” on hope.edu to get involved.
The group’s mission is to “bring students and stakeholders together so they can be prepared as Christian stewards and responsible global citizens. We engage the world constructively through our teaching, research and community service in order to shape Hope College into a model of sustainability and to be a force for good in the world.”
Maple tapping is a great way to get connected with the outdoors and produces a delicious result. There are many kits you can find online that will get you started with maple tapping. The favorite source for the best maple is the sugar maple tree. These trees yield about one gallon of syrup for every 40 gallons of sap collected. These trees can be spotted in Hope’s very own Pine Grove.
If you are interested in learning more about the process or want to be a part of the Hope Green Team, contact Steve Bouma-Prediger, chair of the Green Team, at boumapred@ hope.edu.
The Green Team is composed of many faculty and staff on Hope’s campus. All involved are dedicated to creating a more sustainable Hope that keeps with the Christian mission. Keep an eye out for more earth- friendly projects and events and check out their site on hope. edu/sustainability.