Vibrant Communities In Focus
Image Credit: Tory Zimmerman
[Springwater Forest Environmental Education and Tourism Project]
The Ontario Trillium Foundation grant for the Springwater Forest Project is a sweet deal, in the true sense of the word! It helps support for a maple syrup program in the Catfish Creek Conservation area, near Aylmer. The program teaches local children about native, pioneer and modern methods for making maple syrup. Laura Ronayne, who helps settle the kids into the outdoor classroom, says they are fascinated to see how much work goes into producing one amber bottle of ambrosia.
Sally Martyn is the good soul who teaches the children, donning a black Quaker cap and old-fashioned clothing to lend authenticity. She shows children the burn marks on the back of her wool skirt, from getting too close to the hot pots of simmering liquid, and she says capturing their attention is never a problem.
“I think it gives them a connection to the past and to nature. First they notice the sweetness of the maple syrup. Then they become rather awestruck. Many of the children have never tasted real maple syrup and they can barely believe it comes out of trees. They love it when we bring out fresh snow and pour taffy over it for tasting. And when I give them a little quiz at the end, they always do well. I think the magic is that they get to be out in nature. They get to tap a tree and see how much hard work it can take to produce something special. It’s simple and pure and they relate.”