There was a great turnout at the “Tap Into Maple” event at the Oschmann Forest Conservation Area near Ormond on March 26. A joyful group of participants are shown at the clearing where people were able to enjoy some fellowship, food and the chance to warm up around a fire. Thompson Goddard Photo

ORMOND – There was plenty of activity at the Oschmann Forest near Ormond on March 26 when the South Nation Conservation held their “Tap Into Maple” event.  

Walking along the trail from the parking lot, people were able to enjoy the beauty of the forest, while youngsters could be seen jumping into mud puddles and everyone appeared to be having a wonderful time in the great outdoors.

“The weather turned out to be beautiful” commented Bill Smirle, former SNC board chair. Smirle noted that the sun was shining after the early morning rain. He continued that people had mentioned to him how extremely pleased they were to be at the event and enjoying the opportunity to be out in the fresh air.

SNC communication specialist Shannon Gutoskie mentioned the well-attended event provided participants with the opportunity for a healthy hike, enjoying hot chocolate and scones as well as going on a scavenger hunt in the forest. She mentioned the scavenger hunt had people following clues taken from each of the interpretative sign in the Oschmann Forest. Upon completion, participants received a gift bag containing either a jar of honey or maple syrup.

John Mesman, SNC team lead, community lands and outreach, explained it was sap from trees in the OFCA which was boiled at On The Bend Sugar Shack near Chesterville and provided to SNC. He continued the honey was produced by bees owned by Ambrosia Apiaries; their hives are located on SNC property with the apiary providing 10 gallons of honey per year to SNC in return. Mesman noted if anyone is interested in investigating community use of SNC land to contact the organization.

The Oschmann Forest Conservation Area was donated by the Oschmann Family in 2017 to South Nation Conservation. It features a 1.2 km nature trail with interpretative signs sharing information on maple syrup production and forest ecology. Thanks to the collaboration of the SNC and other organizations, the SNC Maple Syrup Education Program was located at the OFCA. When the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated student trips to the OFCA be suspended, two videos on maple syrup production were produced through a partnership with the Ottawa Catholic School Board for use by educators.