This year Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Farm to School Educator will be giving monthly updates on Farm to School programming in the region tied to the Harvest of the Month. Each month we’ll highlight the local food and farms’ involvement within the cafeteria and the classroom.

March is the perfect time to highlight Maple Syrup, because in the North Country it is sugaring season! Did you know that even maple syrup has a season? In the late winter and early spring, the weather starts to change to warm days where the temperature is above freezing and cold nights where the temperature falls below freezing. This change in temperature is what allows sap, which flows within maple trees, to move throughout the tree. Farmers can tap their maple trees, which allows the sap to flow out of a small hole in the tree, into a bucket or tube so that they can collect it. Once the sap is collected it gets boiled for hours and eventually most of the water boils off, leaving the farmer with thick, dark syrup which we then top on our pancakes!

In the classroom this month some schools were tapping maple trees on their school property and students got a hands-on experience to learn about this process.  

Many classes weren’t able to go on the normal field trips they usually go on this month since school closed down in the middle of the month, so we adapted. We found out that some of our local maple syrup farms have videos online that outline their practices. We pulled these videos together to show a virtual farm tour to students. And even though March is over you can still experience the virtual farm tour for yourself!

Elementary School students can watch these videos and Middle and High School students can watch these videos!

Things might look a little different for the rest of the school year. Instead of highlighting the works that schools are doing, we’ll be showing you how you can do Harvest of the Month activities at home. Stay tuned for April…Pea Shoots! 

For more information, visit http://essex.cce.cornell.edu/agriculture/farm-to-school

Written By: Meghan Brooks