So much of farm life is defined by the changing of the seasons. Even though spring officially arrived last week, winter has not quite left Stony Point Center. That's why I've started calling this time of year "sprinter." While we've enjoyed some sunny, breezy days with temperatures in the 50s and even 60s recently, we are still seeing temperatures drop into the teens at times overnight. As a result, all of our little seedlings have been on a bit of a roller coaster ride. They've been growing steadily, soaking up lots of sunshine from the lengthening days in the greenhouse over the last couple of weeks. But when the cold weather has moved in bringing temperatures below 20 degrees, we've been moving the seedlings indoors to protect them from such extreme cold. I'm starting to lose track of how many times the seedlings have made the journey from greenhouse to indoor sun room—maybe three or four times this March. I guess that's "sprinter" for you. The farm crew is looking forward to the time when overnight temperatures stabilize to the point where it doesn't get much colder than about 25 degrees, which is theoretically normal for this time of year.
While the dramatic temperature shifts have been troublesome for the seedlings, they are actually good for something else. The sap of maple trees will "run" on days when overnight temperatures are freezing and daytime temperatures rise above freezing. This year we've tapped 13 maple trees on campus so that we can collect the sap to make all sorts of delicious treats. The most obvious of these is maple syrup. Since we tapped the trees in early March, we've collected approximately 175 gallons of sap! It generally takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. We've made about 5 gallons of syrup to date, so our ratio has been a little different than the conventional wisdom. Maybe the sap from the maple trees at Stony Point Center is just a little sweeter than other places! In addition to making maple syrup, Amy has been using the maple sap to make naturally sweet teas and lemonades to drink in the dining room. We're hoping to experiment with freezing some of the sap so we can use it for to make more refreshing sweet drinks this summer.
So as “sprinter” becomes spring, we’re looking forward to when our seedlings will be ready for in-ground planting in the fields. In a few more weeks we’ll most likely be tilling our fields in preparation for the first planting of the 2014 season. Until then, happy “sprinter,” everyone!