Location: Bowdoin / Sustainability / Activity / 2011 / Oh So Sweet

This is One Sappy Story

Story posted March 29, 2011

Drip. Drip. Drip. That’s the sound of Bowdoin Organic Garden’s buckets filling up with the sap from campus maple trees. The collection of sap is a visible and audible indicator of springtime in Maine, and Katherine Creswell, Bowdoin’s organic gardener, was quick to jump on the sap collecting bandwagon this year. “It was an idea that Phil Camill and I had,” Katherine explains. “Mitch Mitchell and Penny Savage, of Mitchell and Savage Maple Products, have taken us under their wings and mentored us along the way.”

      Several students and Rosie Armstrong from the Environmental Studies Department braved the flooded parking lots and melting snow banks to help collect the sap. For some students, the process was entirely new. Others, like Spencer Eusden, are familiar with the tradition. “My family and I had been maple sugaring at home in Maine for a long time and it was always something I wanted to do at Bowdoin. I love boiling down the sap and think that the metal buckets on trees around campus look really pretty. Hopefully this can become a Bowdoin tradition and something we can do every year.” Katherine touched on the importance maple sugaring plays in Maine’s traditions, too. “I think it's an important piece of our culture that should be preserved ... we don't have many traditions that are unique to us, and this is one.”  Tapping maple trees was something that the first European colonists to the northeast learned from the Native Americans who were settled in the region.

      Once there is enough sap collected, Katherine plans to boil it down and make maple syrup. That syrup, the amount yet undetermined, will make an appearance at the Locavore Dinner on Wednesday, April 6th. But look out—next year promises more taps and more syrup. Sounds sweet.

“My family and I had been maple sugaring at home in Maine for a long time and it was always something I wanted to do at Bowdoin. I love boiling down the sap and think that the metal buckets on trees around campus look really pretty. Hopefully this can become a Bowdoin tradition and something we can do ever year.”
— Spencer Eusden