Saturday, March 17, 2007

University of Maine, Page Farm, and Maple Syrup

UMaine Page Farm and Home Museum Offers Maple Syrup Season Activities
March 15, 2007Contact: Patty Henner, 581-4115; George Manlove, 581-3756

ORONO – The University of Maine’s Page Farm and Home Museum is hosting two public events, March 23 and March 25, to acknowledge the sweetest sign of spring – maple syrup season.

On March 23, Kathryn Hopkins, a UMaine Cooperative Extension horticulturalist and expert on maple trees and syrup production, will deliver a talk at noon titled "Backyard Sugaring." She’ll review the sap-to-syrup process, and will share tips and advice for amateur syrup makers. Hopkins has worked in the Cooperative Extension’s Somerset County office for 14 years and regularly consults with maple tree growers and syrup producers in Maine. The lecture is free and participants are invited to bring along a bag lunch.

On March 25, from 1-3 p.m., the farm and home museum will entertain children and adults with its annual Maine Maple Sunday program. Activities begin with a short video, "The Maple Sugaring Story," at 1 p.m., followed at 1:30 p.m. by learning activities, game-playing and stories about one of Maine’s oldest industries – the gathering of sap from sugar and black maple trees, and the production of maple syrup. Children will be grouped by age, from kindergarten through grade 6, for activities, says Patricia Henner, museum director.

The afternoon also includes a trip to the University of Maine’s nearby maple sugaring operation in the University Forest on College Avenue Extension. Participants will get a guided walking tour of the sugar bush – tree stands where the maple sugaring story begins – and then will tour the demonstration sugarhouse, where sap is simmered into syrup. One gallon of syrup requires the distillation of 40 gallons of sap. Children can sample fresh maple syrup, straight from the evaporator, poured over ice cream.

"It is a maple syrup sundae on Maine Maple Sunday," Henner says.

The event is a popular, interactive celebration for children to learn about the history of Maine maple syrup, meet other youngsters, and get some fresh air in the process, Henner says.
Northern New England’s Indians taught colonists about making maple syrup and maple candy, and Maine remains one of the world’s largest maple syrup producers.

Because of space limitations at the Page Farm and Home Museum on the Orono campus, pre-registration is advised, and all children must be chaperoned. Henner expects the Maine Maple Sunday event to fill up quickly.

"I’ve already had people calling to make reservations and I haven’t even put out an announcement yet," she says.

A $4 per child reimbursement fee for materials used in the exercises is requested. For registration and other information, please call the Page Farm and Home Museum at 581-4100.

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