NORTH DUNDAS — Join South Nation Conservation (SNC) for a Maple Weekend on March 27th and 28th to discover the sweet world of Ontario maple syrup at the Oschmann Forest Conservation Area in the Township of North Dundas.
The Oschmann Forest Conservation Area features a 1.2 km nature trail with bilingual interpretive signs that share information on maple syrup production, history, First Nations, and forest ecology. Families can visit the Forest to take a self-guided walk and SNC staff will be onsite to greet visitors with free hot chocolate and maple treats from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM on both days.
Donated to SNC by the Oschmann Family in 2017, the Forest on Ormond Road was used by the Oschmanns for maple syrup production for many years and the original sugar shack still stands to this day.
Thanks to municipal and community partnerships and fundraising, sap is again flowing from the Forest’s maple trees and the property now serves as the home for the Conservation Authority’s Maple Syrup Education Program. Typically, over 1,000 students would be descending onto the Forest this spring to take part in the hands-on, outdoor education program which supplements the Ontario curriculum, but the Pandemic has again put a tap into SNC’s plans to bring students onsite.
The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association also recently announced the cancellation of Ontario Maple Weekend, which takes place the first weekend of April each year and sees more than 15,000 people visit participating sugarbushes in Ontario.
SNC has adapted to the current pandemic climate by making virtual field trips for schools, and recently shared new videos with over 30,000 students in the Ottawa Catholic Board, but the Conservation Authority is also urging families to visit the park and take advantage of a free, outdoor, and truly Canadian learning experience.
“Ontario maple syrup farms are known for producing some of the highest quality syrup in the world. Although Ontario Maple Weekend is cancelled this year, the interpretive trails at the Oschmann Forest are open for self-guided tours, sap is flowing, and we will be onsite on March 27th and 28th to greet visitors with free warm hot chocolate and locally sourced maple treats,” said Kelsey Smith, SNC’s Stewardship and Outreach Assistant.
Though Ontario Maple Weekend is cancelled this year, several sugar shacks and traditional pancake houses are open with modified plans. SNC urges interested families to call ahead and make reservations at maple syrup producer sites before heading out. No reservations are needed for SNC Conservation Areas, which are open daily during daylight hours.
The Oschmann Forest Conservation Area is located at 12301 Ormond Road, about 10 kilometres north of Winchester. SNC asks that visitors respect physical distancing, avoid congregating on trails, and consider wearing masks when sharing trails with others.