Maple sugar harvest a part of Carriage Hill MetroPark’s history

Visitors braved frigid temperatures Saturday to experience the process of harvesting and processing maple sap during the maple sugaring program at Carriage Hill MetroPark in Dayton.

Carriage Hill MetroPark, located at 7850 E. Shull Road, includes a farm and homestead of the Arnold family, who built the home in the 1800s, said Rick Musselman, outdoor education director at Five Rivers MetroParks.

Musselman said he started the maple sugaring program here 10 years ago and has been running it ever since.

“Based on documentation from the (Arnold) family diaries here, they constantly talk about maple,” Musselman said. “I know other organizations around the area do maple sugaring, but ours is taken from a historic point of view and doing it more of the traditional way, so that’s what kind of sets it apart.”

Heather Fedon, of Bethel Twp., attended Saturday’s event with her family, including her 6-year-old daughter Evelyn.

“She’s always been interested in the process of how it’s pumped out of the trees because we have our own maple trees in our yard,” she said. “She watched ‘Curious George’ on PBS and they showed the process of making it, so I thought it’d be really interesting in seeing it in person.”

The program included a stop at a maple tree near the Arnold home where Musselman explained the process of pumping the maple sap out of the trees.

“Sap flows up, not down, so when you’re catching the sap, it’s actually flowing up from the roots from moisture and water collected in the roots,” Musselman said.

The second step is to process the maple by boiling/evaporating it, which was demonstrated during the program, as well. The final steps include filtering and packing the syrup.

Dayton-area resident Masha Fry said a winery she visited in Michigan sparked her interest in attending the program.

“We’ve been to a maple syrup winery before, so I just wanted to see how it’s actually collected and how the maple syrup is made,” she said. “And I think it’s sweet and sweets bring people together.”

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