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Families learn process, history of maple sugaring

Derek Draplin
The Detroit News

Families gathered to learn about local heritage and how to make fresh maple syrup at the annual Maple Sugaring program held at Cass Benton Park in Northville on the first full day of Spring.

Carol Clements, 59, manager of the Nankin Mills Interpretive Center gave a presentation on the process and history behind maple syrup production in the area, before helping kids tap trees for sap, turning the sap into syrup, then eating fresh pancakes.

Mid-February to early April, roughly six weeks, is prime season to extract sap from "sugar bushes," the term used to describe areas with a lot of maple trees, Clements said. Currently, ten trees in the park are tapped, and the area has been a source for syrup since the early 1800's.

Basically a hole is drilled in the side of maple tree, a spile is pounded into the tree and sap gets collected into a bucket or bag — a process called sugaring.

"Essentially, when you cook the sap it evaporates the water and you get syrup," Matt Noble-Richardson, an environmentalist with the Wayne County Parks said.

"I wanted to experience the maple syrup and see how it works and the pancake breakfast sounded good too," said Laura Sinclair from Westland, who attended with her husband, Scott.

"It tasted sugary," Romeo Jesse, 8, of Dearborn Heights said of the freshly tapped sap during the event. "It was good; I want more now."

Next weekend, March 28 at 10 a.m. there will be another maple sugaring program at Cass Benton Park, which is located off of Northville Road, north of Six Mile in Hines Park.

ddrapline@detroitnews.com