Local students learn maple syrup production

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. (NEWS10) – Students in Great Barrington learned about maple syrup production on Wednesday.

Students at the Rudolf Steiner School in Great Barrington began cooking maple syrup around 7 a.m. Wednesday. Maple syrup production is just one example of hands-on experiential learning practices the Steiner school incorporates into its early childhood, elementary and secondary educational programs.

“When working with children, I like to really give them a full circle experience, so they have been involved in this process from the very beginning, and they will be enjoying the fruits of their labor and the gifts of these trees through essentially a pancake celebration,” Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Teacher Hadley Milliken said.

Over the past three weeks, students helped collect 80 gallons of sap from the campus maple grove. Forty are being boiled down over a 12-hour period to make a single gallon of pure maple syrup.

“We’re using our senses to experience the coming season, experience the coming spring to really see how the earth is emerging after this very long winter,” Milliken said.

Milliken’s holistic teachings strive to promote a better ecological relationship between the students and their immediate environment.

“This next generation of children, I think, is extremely important in the health of our earth and our food system,” she said. “You know, really giving a sense of the interrelated nature of all systems and a reverence and a deeper understanding of that through experience I think is transformative and it’s powerful and I feel really blessed to have the opportunity to work with children in this way. It’s quite a gift, and it inspires me every day. I learn from them.”

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