Trees tapped to raise funds

YOUNGSTOWN – When the Rocky Ridge Neighborhood Association was looking for a fundraiser, they found an idea that had been untapped for years – literally.

Tuesday, the group showed off the fruits of that idea, as they announced in conjunction with Mill Creek MetroParks the debut of their own maple syrup: Mill Creek Maple Pure Maple Syrup.

Money raised from the sale of the syrup will be split evenly with the park. The park will use its share to help with the construction of a new play area at the Wick Recreation Area, said Linda Kostka, director of development and marketing for the park.

The syrup came from a grove of 125 sugar maple trees planted in the park in 1951 at Rocky Ridge. This is the first year the trees were tapped. Kostka says no one knows why the trees hadn’t been tapped until now.

John Slanina of the neighborhood association said he and others began tapping in February by drilling small holes in each tree. They collected six tons of sap.

It took about 40 to 50 gallons of the liquid from the trees to be boiled down and blended with other ingredients to make one gallon of syrup, Slanina said.

The association made 350 bottles of the syrup. They are available at the Fellows Riverside Gardens and other locations in the park.

”If people have a grove of trees on their property, they can make their own maple syrup,” Slanina said.

He said he went to a class offered by the Ohio State Extension Office in Geauga County to learn how to cultivate and make the syrup, and the process took about nine weeks.

Slanina said the group got the idea to use the syrup as a fundraiser when they went on a hike late last year that ended in the grove. He said he asked the park system first, and they were receptive.

Joe Novicky sampled the product at the Judge Morley Pavilion and said he liked it.

”It’s excellent,” Novicky said. ”The texture is great and the sweetness as well. It’s well-blended.”