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CONVAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

A taste of what it takes

BEN’S SUGAR SHACK: Temple syrup maker brings the process home to Peterborough students

  • Boiling maple syrup at Peterborough Elementary School<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Boiling maple syrup at Peterborough Elementary School<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Boiling maple syrup at Peterborough Elementary School<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Boiling maple syrup at Peterborough Elementary School<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Boiling maple syrup at Peterborough Elementary School<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Boiling maple syrup at Peterborough Elementary School<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Boiling maple syrup at Peterborough Elementary School<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Boiling maple syrup at Peterborough Elementary School<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Boiling maple syrup at Peterborough Elementary School<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Boiling maple syrup at Peterborough Elementary School<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Boiling maple syrup at Peterborough Elementary School<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Nick Dinino, front, and Zach Burgess check out the boiling sap. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Boiling maple syrup at Peterborough Elementary School<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Boiling maple syrup at Peterborough Elementary School<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Boiling maple syrup at Peterborough Elementary School<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

PETERBOROUGH — “We’ll make a few gallons today,” Ben Fisk said on Wednesday, as he poured a container of sap into a tub of maple syrup boiling furiously outside the back door of Peterborough Elementary School. “This is all sap the kids collected. Now they see the last step.”

Fisk, who owns Ben’s Sugar Shack in Temple, spent some of his time during this sugaring season helping PES students tap trees on the school property and, with permission, at the homes of neighbors along High Street.

“We used all buckets, the old-fashioned way,” he said. “They went out and collected every day.”

Teachers Lynn Compton and John Szep also collected sap on the weekends. The two teachers were the driving force behind the maple sugaring program. Students learned about the history of maple sugaring, made replicas of native American birch bark buckets, studied how and when maple trees produce sap, kept track of the weather, and even got in some phys ed, as they frequently used the school’s snowshoes to get to their taps.

“We started the unit with a contra dance, to wake up the trees,” Compton said.

Fisk said they hung about 100 buckets and got a good flow of sap from most of their taps. And on Wednesday, students pulled on coats, hats and gloves on a bitter cold day in order to carefully peer through the steam as Fisk stirred the boiling sap.

“We had a great time,” said health teacher Tanya Rousseau as she took a turn stirring. “It’s been awesome because the kids have been able to see the whole process. And now they get to take home a sample.”

Before they filed back inside, each student picked up a tiny 3.4 ounce bottle of genuine PES maple syrup — the end result of weeks of hard work.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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