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Having all kinds of fun in sticky situations

It’s not all about livestock and country fairs for the 4-H Club.

For a group of young 4-H members, the club is all about maple syrup.

The youngsters have been meeting every Saturday since Feb. 25, learning the ins and outs of the maple syrup business. The club is supervised by John Drummond and Kevin Snyder of Snyder Heritage Farms in Breslau.

Every week, the club members look at different ways to eat maple syrup, harvesting and processing the syrup and even how to get creative.

As a member of the Waterloo Region 4-H Maple Syrup Club, Ruby Avelar says she has learned many interesting things about the golden sticky syrup made all over the area.

At their last meeting on Mar. 18, the club tested a theory that different sides of a maple tree have different sugar concentrations in the sap. For example, the south side of the tree gets a bit more sun in the wintertime, so would the extra sun help or hinder the sap’s sugar content?

Anna uses an instrument to determine the sugar content in a sap sample while Ruby looks on.

“It was sweetest on the north side,” said Avelar, adding that wasn’t the only interesting thing she remembers from Saturday’s trip to Snyder Heritage Farms, “We saw that there was a really, really old tree that still has a spile (tap) still sticking out of it. You could only see a bit of it though. The tree had grown.”

Drummond says there are a great group of kids in the club this year, and he believes the appeal for the club is just because of how prevalent maple syrup is in the rural culture of Waterloo Region.

“I think they just want to learn more about the maple syrup industry,” he said. “They want to know how to make the syrup that’s all around us.”

One of Avelar’s favourite things about the maple syrup club is getting to taste test some different maple products, and even making them herself.

4-H Maple Syrup Club member Colin Ormiston taste tests the sap straight from a maple tree at Snyder Heritage Farms on Mar. 18. The club tested a tree to see which side, north, east, south or west, had the sweetest sap. [Liz Bevan / The Observer]

“My favourite was the maple syrup-covered peanuts,” she said, adding the social side of it is important too. “It is really fun to see my friends.”

She wants to see more people learning more about maple syrup in the future.

“I think it is great and I think it is something that a lot of people should know about because a lot of foods have maple syrup in them. There is a lot of maple around,” she said.

The public can join in and learn more about how to make syrup from sap on Elmira Maple Syrup Festival day. On Apr. 1, the club will be stationed at Snyder Heritage Farms from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. teaching the public about the processes involved in making delicious maple syrup. They will even be serving maple syrup cotton candy, a highlight for Drummond. Everyone is welcome.

The 4-H Maple Syrup Club gathered at Snyder Heritage Farms last Saturday to learn more about how maple syrup is produced at the Breslau farm. [Liz Bevan / The Observer]

“We made the maple sugar, we put it in the cotton candy machine and I would say so far this year that has been the favourite,” he said.

To learn more about the 4-H Maple Syrup Club, or other clubs offered for youth by Waterloo Region 4-H, visit their website at www.4-hontario.ca.

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