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Tag Archive | "Rick Sevey"

Some sugary goodness for you! 


Maple sap is running and you might find Maple trees being tapped in various places in the area. This photo was taken of trees in Nelson Township, near 18 Mile and Tisdel. Photo by L. Allen.

From the Cedar Springs FFA

This year the beginning of March not only marks the beginning of spring, but also marks the beginning of sap season. Every year the FFA taps nearly 200 maple trees behind the middle school. This can be a rigorous project, but has resulted in less work this year due to the switch from 5 gallon buckets to 5 gallon bags. The FFA decided to try out the bags so they did not have to sanitize and wash the buckets every year prior to and following sap season. With the bags, you just have to put them together, then take them apart and throw them away when it’s done flowing. 

Under the supervision of Bill Brandt, many of Mr. Reyburn’s ambitious students took to the woods. They brought along a drill, the correct size drill bit, taps, and bags that were assembled in Ag class. In order to apply the tap—about a foot and a half to two feet from the ground—a small hole is drilled. This is a tedious job because the hole can neither be too shallow, nor to deep. After the hole is drilled, a tap with 8-12 inches of hose attached to it is pushed into the hole. This year, the tap is put through the hole on the collection-bags-bracket first, and then into the pre-drilled-tree hole. This is so that the bags do not fall to the ground. This drilling and bag hanging process is repeated on all of the trees. 

Once the taps are in, it’s waiting time. 

Prime flowing weather is when the sun is shining and it’s a little above freezing during the day and then gets colder at night. The bags are emptied as needed, anywhere from everyday to not for a whole week. Dumping normally takes place after school so more people can be involved. To dump the bags, you simply remove the tap from the tree, dump the sap into a bucket, hang the bag back up, then take the bucket to dump into the tub on the trailer. 

Cedar Springs FFA has tapped nearly 200 Maple trees behind the Cedar Springs Middle School to catch sap for making maple syrup. Courtesy photo.

Without the dedication and commitment of Cedar Springs FFA Alumni member Rick Sevey, the FFA would not have syrup. After dumping the sap, Chairperson Evan Young hauls it to Rick’s farm. Here, the sap is dumped into a 400 gallon bulk tank to store until boiling time. The sugar content is measured at this time as well. So far this year,  all but one load has had a 3 percent content, which is extremely good (the other was 2.75 percent). The average sugar content is about 2 percent. At that average number, it takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to get 1 gallon of syrup. But, a higher sugar content allows for the ratio to drop closer to 35:1, possibly even 30:1. 

The boiled down sap is bottled into pint jars for the FFA to sell. The FFA also gets a few gallon jugs to auction at their annual banquet. So far this year, the FFA has collected 1300-plus gallons of sap meaning it will yield over 30 gallons of syrup.

Nothing is more delicious than a stack of flapjacks with homemade maple syrup!  Although tapping, collecting, and boiling is an enduring process, the outcome is worth it: fresh syrup, and spring weather!  

The FFA will be selling the remainder of their 2017 syrup at Cedar Springs Community Night on April 19, so come on out and grab a pint and support the Cedar Springs FFA!

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FFA: Learning to Do


Josh and Tanner collecting sap for FFA Syrup Project

Josh and Tanner collecting sap for FFA Syrup Project

By Madison Strain and Mykenzie Gage

More than ever, the Cedar Springs FFA is giving their students many opportunities to learn by doing. The FFA motto, “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve,” is especially held true as the members work together with older mentors.

One great opportunity is the Maple Syrup Project. The members work alongside FFA boosters Steve Schmidt, Dave Dunaven, Rick Sevey, and Randy House; the high school’s kitchen crew; and many others. These boosters are entering their third year of showing members how to use a forest to produce a very profitable and desired product. When working to complete this product, the workers must complete the following steps: Start by washing the buckets, next tap the trees and hang the buckets. Members must go out and collect sap every day when the weather is right. After all of the sap is collected, it is time to boil. Boiling time will be greatly reduced this year, due to a reverse osmosis process that FFA booster and alumni Rick Sevey created. So far this year, the Cedar Springs FFA has collected over 1,600 gallons of sap, which is nearly half of their yearly haul last year.

Along with the Maple Syrup Project, they also manage a project called the Land Lab. Committee members work to raise crops, which they later sell to help fund the chapter. They also put the money towards buying new equipment to keep the project running. The Land Lab is located on nine acres of land broken into two sections near the middle school and high school. The members grow corn and soybeans on the land. A portion of the land is also reserved for a community service project called the Community Garden where members provide garden plots for use by the community.  Project Land Lab is supported by the community members, FFA boosters, and alumni. They help by mentoring the committee members, providing equipment and its operation and often give feed and fertilizer donations to support the project.

As a part of the “Learning to Do” experience, FFA members plan fundraisers to raise money and a greater awareness of their program. The middle school and high school FFA programs got together to raise money on February 27. Their chapter sold meat sticks, homemade maple syrup, and baked goods to the public. These specific fundraisers were sponsored by Tractor Supply Co. and Family Farm and Home, whom are two big supporters of the FFA Chapter. Not only does Tractor Supply Co. support FFA in their fundraising, but they also offer a grant program to help with projects such as the community garden area. During the Spring the FFA prepares garden plots for the community.

This Spring, the chapter is focusing their work around the motto “Learning to Do.” With the help of community mentors and boosters, the FFA members will gain new knowledge on agricultural tasks such as making maple syrup or learning to plant crops. The FFA motto is just one way the chapter will achieve its mission of premier leadership, personal growth, and career success.

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