Each spring the FERM conducts a two phase sugarbush workshop. The 1st phase is a week long series of field trips for local K-12 schools. The second phase is a one day private landowner workshop geared towards current and potential maple syrup producers.
This project began in the spring of 2006 with a landowner workshop and was expanded the following year to include a weeklong series of field trips/workshops for local K-12 schools. The FERM students are responsible for getting the operation up and running and conducting a variety of demonstrations during the actual events. Groups attending the workshops can choose either a full pancake breakfast or a snack of vanilla ice cream. Both options come with fresh maple syrup.
The K-12 workshop was an been a big success with between 200 and 800 kids coming through the program in any given year. Syrup left over from the workshop is sold locally to raise money for improvements to the operation.
In addition to learning the process to produce maple syrup, how to interact with people of varying levels of knowledge and the steps necessary to hold a large workshop, FERM students also hone their tree physiology knowledge as it relates to sap flow.
The operation started out with 52 taps in roadside trees in the Alberta Village, a cinder block arch, two boiling pans (borrowed), and associated tapping, collection, finishing and bottling equipment/supplies. Over the course of several years we were able to sell enough syrup to enable us to purchase a CDL 20"x66" evaporator and increase the number of taps to 71.