Maple teachings allow Humber College to appreciate its sugar bush

by | Apr 15, 2019 | News

Madeline Jafarnejad and Zainab Zaman,News Reporters

To celebrate the arrival of spring Humber College students, staff and faculty went outside to learn about the school’s very own urban sugar bush.

The Humber Arboretum is a 101 hectare (250-acre) green space located behind the college and features a small forest of maple trees.

The Humber College community has access to the Humber Arboretum all year round but the maple trees only give sap for a short period of time during the spring when the days are warm and nights are cold.

Lynn Short, Horticulture Professor at Humber, said when she first started working at the Arboretum they would tap a few of the maple trees for a demonstration but wouldn’t do anything with it.

Lynn Short, Horticulture Professor at Humber College, explains how maple syrup is made at the Maple Teachings seminar held April 9, 2019. (Madeline Jafarnjad)

Short now participates in the yearly making of maple syrup to celebrate spring with the Aboriginal Resource Centre (ARC).

“I meet a lot of people who don’t even now the Arboretum exists behind the college,” she said. “So I think it’s a good place for students to go and de-stress.”

The Maple Teachings event offered a free traditional Indigenous lunch at the ARC which was followed by an educational tour of the Arboretum’s sugar bush led by Short.

The tour allowed participants to learn about the maple trees while also recognizing the role the trees and tapping have in the rich Indigenous history of spring.

“To me, it’s like a celebration of it being spring,” Short said. “It is important to understand the significance of this resource that we do have so people can appreciate it.”

Canada is known around the world for it’s maple syrup as it is rare in other countries.

Lynn Short leads the group at the maple teachings in the woods of the Arboretum at North campus on Tuesday. (Zainab Zaman)

Short said it takes about 182 litres (40 gallons) of sap to make 4.5 litres (one gallon) of maple syrup. Participants at the Maple Teachings were given a small sample of the sugary water that comes straight out of the school’s own maple trees.

“It tasted like sweet water comparable to Stevia which is a natural sweetener,” said Paul Wiench, second-year Landscape Technician student.

“We learned that there’s nothing really added to make maple syrup they just take away water through evaporation,” Wiench said. “It’s just boiled down maple sap.”