Last updated: February 15. 2014 1:49AM - 898 Views

Greene County Parks & Trails Volunteer Ken Bish carefully taps on of the sugar maple trees at the Narrows Reserve Sugar Bush in Beavercreek.
Greene County Parks & Trails Volunteer Ken Bish carefully taps on of the sugar maple trees at the Narrows Reserve Sugar Bush in Beavercreek.
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BEAVERCREEK — Groups of 10 or more can enjoy a private tour of the Sugar Grove at the Narrows Reserve with its lingering scent of sweet maple syrup in a hike led by Greene County Parks & Trails naturalists.

Tours can be arranged between Feb. 18 and March 7 with the 90-minute hikes completed by 5 p.m. The tour program is ideal for school, scout and civic organizations.

The tours will highlight how sap is formed and is transformed into syrup using both Native American and modern techniques. The program meets school proficiency standards. Samples of warm maple syrup will be available at the end of the tour.

Cost is $4 per person (Greene County resident) and $5 per person (non-resident).

To schedule a private tour or for more information, call Greene County Parks & Trails Chief Naturalist Cris Barnett at 937-562-6474 or email cbarnett@co.greene.oh.us.

There is also an option for those who want a little more hands-on experience.

Local residents are invited to rent their very own sugar bucket and witness how maple syrup is made in the Greene County Parks & Trails’ Sugar Bush at the Narrows Reserve, 2575 Indian Ripple Rd., Beavercreek.

The maple sap bucket will be labeled with the family’s name.

Families will learn how to tap a maple tree to collect sap into a sugar bucket. Tours of the sugar camp will be offered to view how much sap has been collected. Sap will then be cooked down and served as part of the annual Greene County Parks & Trails’ pancake breakfast.

Families who rent a sugar bucket will receive a pass for the Annual GCP&T Pancake Breakfast for up to four individuals that will include maple syrup, hot pancakes, sausage, milk, coffee, tea and juice. The breakfast is held from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., Saturday, March 1, at Bellbrook Middle School.

Cost is $50 per bucket/per year.

For more information or to reserve a sugar bucket, call Greene County Parks & Trails at 937-562-6440 or email abotkin@co.greene.oh.us.

Indigenous peoples living in the northeastern part of North America were the first groups known to have produced maple syrup and maple sugar. According to aboriginal oral traditions, as well as archaeological evidence, maple tree sap was being processed into syrup long before Europeans arrived in the region.

There are no authenticated accounts of how maple syrup production and consumption began, but various legends exist; one of the most popular involves maple sap being used in place of water to cook venison served to a chief. Other stories credit the development of maple syrup production to Nanabozho, Glooskap, or the squirrel. Aboriginal tribes developed rituals around sugar-making, celebrating the Sugar Moon (the first full moon of spring) with a Maple Dance.

Many aboriginal dishes replaced the salt traditional in European cuisine with maple sugar or syrup.

The Algonquians recognized maple sap as a source of energy and nutrition. At the beginning of the spring thaw, they used stone tools to make V-shaped incisions in tree trunks; they then inserted reeds or concave pieces of bark to run the sap into buckets, which were often made from birch bark. The maple sap was concentrated either by dropping hot cooking stones into the buckets or by leaving them exposed to the cold temperatures overnight and disposing of the layer of ice that formed on top. While there was widespread Agriculture in Mesoamerica and the Southeast and Southwest regions of the United States, the production of maple syrup is one of only a few agricultural processes in the Northeast that is not a European colonial import.

Gazette staff writer William Duffield contributed to this story.

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