Spigot pulled from SNC’s maple education program for second year at Oschmann Forest Conservation Area

Above, Oschmann Forest

Sweet experience sours again because of pandemic 

Tom Van Dusen
Nation Valley News

ORMOND — South Nation Conservation has pulled the spigot on its 2021 Maple Education program at 18-acre Oschmann Forest Conservation Area in this hamlet north of Winchester.

It’ll mark the second sap season in a row that the popular program has been turned off because of COVID-19. The decision was finalized Wednesday during the regular meeting of the SNC Communications Committee.

The flagship education program, which draws students from schools across SNC’s jurisdiction, only got in one season at Oschmann in 2019 before C-19 put a lid on it. Prior to relocation, the program had been offered at commercial Sand Road Maple Farm near Moose Creek.

When flowing, the program provides K-12 students with a hands-on experience learning about maple syrup production evolving from aboriginal traditions to modern techniques.

“Given the ongoing pandemic, school closures, field trip restrictions, and health guidelines, staff won’t be proceeding with on-site tours to ensure the safety of staff, students, and teachers,” said SNC technician Karen Paquette during the online committee meeting.

As a fill-in, a “teaser” video will be shared online with school boards to promote maple syrup education and demonstration. The video will take students on a virtual tour of Oschmann Forest, including some teachable moments aligning with the Ontario curriculum, Paquette explained.

The video will “leave enough to the imagination” to entice viewers to get out and safely participate in self-guided tours when possible. Updated programming plans will be communicated to schools, including availability of the video as a “sweet” alternative. SNC will also continue to offer its transportable Maple Magic Kit for classroom use.

Depending on health restrictions in place at the time, two Maple Weekend day events will be hosted at Oschmann in mid March and early April to help promote any activities organized by the Eastern Chapter of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, the staff member continued.

SNC staff will be on site to welcome visitors and offer promotional and educational information, washed down with warm beverages. Staff will also ensure C-19 health regulations are respected.

A social media campaign will be launched to advertise the special days, future programming, and the bilingual self-guided maple education trail running through Oschmann. Production facts and First Nation contributions are identified as part of the 1.2 km walking tour.

“Staff look forward to hosting students on-site at Oschmann in 2022… pending public health restrictions,” Paquette concluded.

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