Bexley News

Maple syrup workshop yields 'sweet' success for participants

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About 29 people learned to identify maple trees in Jeffrey Park and tap them to make syrup during Bexley's first maple syrup workshop, held throughout February and the first weekend of March.

The resulting product raised money for the Bexley Education Foundation.

"We had a real diversity of residents participate in the workshop, and the event brought together residents from all ages and backgrounds -- and a real sense of community and camaraderie filled the event," Mayor Ben Kessler said.

The workshop, offered in conjunction with the Bexley Arboretum and local Boy Scout Troop 166, began Feb. 8 with participants gathering in Jeffrey Park and learning how to identify maple trees.

"This workshop series was inspired by the need to build up an educational component to the Bexley Arboretum," Kessler said. "We've been looking for unique ways to provide a good educational curriculum and to showcase the arboretum.

"Bexley resident David Hodge helped inspire the idea, and also helped us partner with Paul Freeman, who is a Columbus-area resident who is experienced in maple syrup production."

City arborists Ron Gould and Grant Archer and Recreation Director Michael Price also helped plan and execute the event.

"We had good attendance," Price said. "Everyone that signed up walked away with an 8-ounce bottle of syrup."

During the workshop's second session on Feb. 22, participants learned how to install buckets to tap the maple trees. The final session on March 1 consisted of an all-day production workshop in which participants tapped the trees and learned how to evaporate sap and turn it into maple syrup.

It takes 42 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. In total, participants tapped 40 trees, collected 60 gallons of sap and produced slightly more than 2 gallons of syrup. The product was branded as "Kelveden Maple Syrup" in honor of the Jeffrey family's name for Jeffrey Mansion.

"Production was somewhat light, because by March 1, there were still too many days where the temperature never rose above freezing," Kessler said. "This year's weather has resulted in an unusually late maple syrup season."

The Bexley Education Foundation auctioned off one bottle of Kelveden Maple Syrup, netting $80, at its annual BRAVO! Fundraiser, held March 1 at the L Brands World Headquarters. The city gave away the other bottle of the locally made syrup through its Bexley Blast weekly email alert system.

The maple syrup workshop was such a success that the city plans to hold a taste-testing event, with participants comparing the Kelveden Maple Syrup to other brands. Details about the taste-testing will be announced soon, Kessler said, and the city plans to conduct maple syrup workshops in the future.

"We'd love to see this become an annual tradition," he said. "Now that we've gotten a taste of this -- pun intended -- I see this becoming a gradually larger event that perhaps also allows us to produce a little more syrup and get this product out to the community."

For more information about the upcoming maple syrup tasting and future workshops, visit bexley.org/maple.

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