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Maple Sugaring

January – March  

What is sap and why is it in the tree? Can you tap any tree to make syrup? Find out as you accompany farmers into the sugarbush to tap trees, collect sap, and learn about the different modern and historic sugaring methods used in the woods. At the sugar shack, see a working evaporator and learn how the final steps in the process have changed in the last century.

Farmers will lead students on a brief walk between the sugar bush and the barnyard, while teaching ways to identify different species of trees. In the barnyard, cut and split the firewood needed to boil sap into syrup – and visit the farm animals that help keep the farm running through the winter. Finally, walk through the farmhouse kitchen and see pancakes being made with flour ground from wheat grown right on the farm...and take one with you to taste with syrup you helped make.

Program Objectives

Students will participate in the maple sugaring process in order to understand:

  • What sap is and why trees are only tapped in late winter/early spring
  • How evaporation turns sap into maple syrup or maple sugar
  • Why sugar maples make the best sap for syrup
  • How people use natural resources to meet their needs


Essential Questions

  • How can you identify trees without looking at the leaves?
  • What is sap made from and why is it in the tree?
  • How does boiling turn maple sap into maple syrup?
  • How does a wedge help you split firewood?
  • Did farmers in 1900 produce everything they used in their kitchen or did they go to a store?


Relevant Curricula

Next Generation Science Standards: LS1.A Structure and Function | LS1.C Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms | LS2.B Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems | PS3.B Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer | PS3.D Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life

NJ Science Standards: 5.1A Understand Scientific Explanations | 5.1B Generate Scientific Evidence Through Active Investigations | 5.2B Changes in Matter | 5.2E Forces and Motion | 5.3B Matter and Energy Transformations

NJ Social Studies Standards: 6.1B Geography, People and the Environment | 6.1C Economics, Innovation and Technology | 6.1D History, Culture and Perspectives


Cost & Scheduling

– $10 per person for children ages 1+ and adults (including parents & teachers)
– Groups of 5–15 (Scholarships are available for certain programs.)


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Howell Farm is owned by the County of Mercer and operated by the Mercer County Park Commission

Brian M. Hughes, County Executive | Aaron T. Watson, Executive Director

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