Thursday, May 8, 2014

Birch syrup at the library

In the last weeks, we've had leafout, but before the buds actually burst, the sap was running from the ground up through the roots and trunks of trees. Millions of gallons of sap rise in the trees around us, and the trees change color as their bark and limbs prepare for spring, the catkins come out and the pollen from willows and aspens and cottonwoods spreads. That's the sap-tappers' time of year, and when birch syrup is made.

The JTEL is working with the OneTree Alaska program to begin a regular tapping program on our property on Village Road. After a Memorandum of Agreement is drawn up, we can arrange to use OneTree's reverse osmosis machine and tapping equipment. (You may have seen Birch Pavelsky and Jan Dawe of OneTree as well as Deirdre Helfferich and Hans Mölders of the JTEL board recently, traipsing about on the property, checking buckets.)

Sixteen birch trees will be coming down this summer when we start work on the driveway (more about that coming soon), so these trees were chosen for the first season's work, but instead of using only one tap, three taps per tree were used since they will be cut down. The peculiar weather reduced the tapping time, but the total collected was 57 gallons of sap. OneTree will receive two-thirds of this in exchange for the use of their equipment, and the JTEL will receive one-third of reduced sap (some syrup, some sap at 14% sugars), which can be used as prizes for upcoming events.

More to come!

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