Being outside and in harmony with the environment is at the core of who we are at The Center for Discovery. So, it’s no surprise that we embrace every season with the same gusto and enthusiasm to get moving and have fun!

With our residents healthy and safe and the pandemic fading into the distance – we think this might’ve been the best winter yet! It snowed. It snowed. And, it snowed again.  And we loved it all!

The deep blanket of white was just perfect for cross country skiing and our favorite – snowshoeing. Our residents and students love to snap them on and go for a walk, take care of things on the farm, or just frolic.  They also made colorful snow art, snow people, and maybe threw a snowball or two!

By far the most beloved activity of the winter is – maple sugar tapping.  With visions of rich maple syrup in their heads, our residents, students, Recreation Therapy team, and other support team members all add on the layers of warm clothing and gather around campus to head out to the maples. It is a perfect example of both our Food is Medicine® and Seed to Belly® philosophies.  We nurture our plants and trees and watch as they bear fruit (and vegetables and sap) and we bring them to our table to eat.

This year, the temperature was right to begin tapping in mid-February.  Approximately 275 holes were drilled and collection buckets set up. The trees were checked regularly, and the buckets emptied into larger containers. All over the farm, students and residents were spotted pulling large sap containers on sleds in their snowshoes!

It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of finished syrup. Halfway through this season our team had already cooked down 700 gallons of sap! That requires a lot of boiling which is done in our evaporator, and fueled by a constant stream of firewood – stocked by our busy students and residents. After the sap had reached 66-67% sugar content and filtered, it was time to fill the jugs and label them for consumption…on pancakes that is!

The process of course isn’t complete without a bit of tasting. This year did not disappoint us. The sap from our maples made a “top chef-worthy” syrup!

But it’s not all about the food or even the process. It’s also about taking part in history.  Sam Rose, TCFD’s Director of Recreation Therapy said, “Making maple syrup is a celebrated tradition here in Sullivan County, New York.  I am very proud that the students and residents at The Center are keeping that tradition alive.”

If you would like to learn more from Sam, please watch this virtual seminar found here, https://bit.ly/IntegratedArtsSeminarSeries, produced by our Integrated Arts team as a part of a learning series designed to educate everyone about the incredible work here at The Center.