Farm keeps alive tradition of tapping trees

Posted March 15, 2009, at 10:24 p.m.

ROCKPORT, Maine — The subfreezing cold one afternoon last week slowed the flow of sap from the Aldermere Farm maple trees, but it couldn’t keep the smile from Kazan Kibler’s face.

“It’s dripping out the hose!” exclaimed the Lincolnville 6-year-old after he helped tap a tree during a community event at the farm, which now is run by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Kibler, who bounced around the snowy terrain like a wintertime windup toy, was pretty excited to take part in the classic Maine tradition — and that is just what his grandmother had in mind.

“I wanted to show my grandchildren this procedure,” said Diane Haines of Camden on Thursday. “My husband and I used to tap trees all the time in Rangeley. … We’re Maine people, and it’s just what we did. We want the kids to experience all this stuff, too.”

Haines watched as Kibler helped the Aldermere Farm staff.

“I can’t believe he’s off the couch!” she said. “He’s a couch potato.”

Sarah Post, the program manager at Aldermere Farm, said the “Sap to Syrup” programs have helped many kids learn more about what she calls the lost skills of maple syrup season. About 20 people participated in the tapping session Thursday, and about 60 came to a session the previous weekend.

Aside from the chill, it was a perfect day to head into one of the farm’s two sugarbushes, located across the street from the farm’s Belted Galloway cows.

Post helped kids and others use a power drill and hammer to tap the trees and hook up yards of plastic tubing that drip into buckets. Along the way, she had them taste the pure maple sap and slipped in unusual maple facts. For instance, it’s possible to make syrup from red maple trees as well as sugar maple trees, she said.

“It’s really gaining in popularity,” Post said of the community programs. “We’re teaching parents as much as the kids these days.”

Holly Landry just moved to the state from Rhode Island. She and her husband home-school their children, and they thought that learning how to tap a tree would be educational.

“We thought it would be good to experience it,” she said. “They’ve never done this before.”

Sherry Cobb of Union is one grown-up who came to the event because she was curious.

“I’ve never done this before, and it’s an important ritual in the life of Maine. And I love maple syrup,” she said.

For information about “Sap to Syrup” activities, call 236-2739 or visit the Web site www.aldermere.org.

acurtis@bangordailynews.net

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