Syrup in the City 2011 Launches

Posted February 4, 2011 by: Laurel Atkinson

Syrup in the City 2011 Launches

The end of winter is near and Not Far From The Tree is ready for the iconic food of the season: maple syrup!

Not Far From The Tree is pleased to announce the launch of our urban maple syrup program, Syrup in the City, after a successful pilot program last year. This year, with the support of Live Green Toronto, we are able to offer the unique experience of tree tapping and sap collecting to your own home. That’s right – we’ll help you make maple syrup from the maple tree in your yard!

Perfect for adults and kids alike, Syrup in the City is a way for you and your tree to have an urban food adventure this winter. It’s easy to participate by purchasing a Syrup in the City kit that will include the materials, resources, and expert assistance to make maple syrup from your very own tree. For $50, you receive:

• The supplies and equipment needed to tap your tree

• Assistance in tapping your tree from a team of specially-trained volunteers and staff

• Ability to participate in our boil-down day on Saturday, March 12th as we magically transform sap into syrup. You can donate some (or all) of your sap at a time that is convenient for you

• An invitation to participate in the community sugaring off on Sunday, March 13th, where you’ll have special opportunities to participate and taste the syrup from your tree

• An educational field guide to your maple tree filled with information about trees, sap, maple syrup, and the urban forest

• Instructions on how to keep watch over your sap collection, and a chart to keep track of how much you produce

Maple syrup recipes from top Toronto chefs and cookbook authors

• Special discounts

We know that many people are keen to try and make maple syrup from their own trees, so we’re offering this fun program as a means to lend our expertise and collective effort to the task.

To sign up for the program, you first must register your maple tree with us. Because of strict municipal bylaws that help ensure that our urban forest is healthy for generations to come, we will only tap trees that we can ensure are healthy and located on private property. Our online form will help you figure out if your tree is eligible for the program.

Kits are available for only $50. For more information, check out the registration form or contact us at or 647.774.PICK (7425).

Do you know somebody who’d be interested in this program? Feel free to share word of this program with them or consider giving them a Syrup in the City kit as a gift. You may also be interested in our fantastic Syrup in the City T-shirts, available for sale online at our online store.

11 thoughts on “Syrup in the City 2011 Launches

  1. I’m sure a lot of thought and planning went into the sugaring off dates, and I’m equally sure they likely can’t be changed, but March 12-13 is the first weekend of the March Break… a lot of families that would love to participate will be off and out of the city!

  2. Nice intentions but encouraging people to drill holes into the few sugar maples surviving in urban areas is risky to the tree. Most maples downtown are Norway or silver maples, which are not syrup producers. I’ve made my own..but in the country. It takes about pails and pails of sap to yield a litre of syrup. Sugaring is done outside because there is so much humidity with the sap boiling off. Or, you could always think of it as a great way to peel the wallpaper off your house. As well, the cold nights and warm days needed for the sap to run is not something you can plan for March break. Urban trees grow under difficult conditions. I prefer a sugar maple working to shade and clean our dirty air.

  3. Hi Linda — Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments! I’ll do my best to answer them.

    You’re entirely correct that tapping trees is indeed an “injury” to a tree. And it’s true that urban trees undergo more stresses than their forested counterparts. We’ve been in touch with City staff in Parks, Forestry, and Recreation to ensure that everybody’s on board with what we’re doing. We’re only tapping the healthiest of trees, as designated so by our volunteer arborist. You can read much more about the steps we took last year by reading our post, Tapping Trees with Care, from March 2010:

    As well, we are encouraging registered tree owners to bring their sap to our community boil down so that they don’t have to contend with peeling wallpaper in their kitchens. And, in regards to your final point, we found that late February to mid-March was actually the perfect timing for sap collection here in Toronto!

    In answer to your other point — it’s actually completely possible to tap Norway maple trees! We actually prefer to tap Norway maple trees because they tolerate urban stresses better. It takes more energy to make syrup from them, though — the boil down ratio for Sugar maples is about 40:1 (meaning that 40 Litres of sap are required to produce 1 Litre of syrup), and with Norway maples it’s even more (about 60:1). You can even make syrup from birch trees, but this ratio is even higher, about 90:1.

    Thanks for contributing to this conversation!

  4. Without clear information from the start, repeated every time you suggest tapping maples, you risk damage to irreplaceable sugar maples in downtown Toronto. You never make it clear in this article that you are only tapping the exotic Norway maple, or that City trees are off limits. I know about tapping birches, but I would never do it. Birches in Toronto have a hard life, always at risk of European birch borer. Last thing they need is the urban Toronto syrup borer, looking to appreciate it as a food source. Picking fruit is one thing. Drilling holes in trees is another. Maximizing our food sources in the city is a great idea. However, we can appreciate our maple and birch trees without making them a food source. I urge you to reconsider this initiative.

  5. what the hell linda learn your facts it has been proven tapping dont hert the trees , it only takes 10% of the sap from trees and only a half an inch hole into a 50 feet tree cmon are you one of those treehugers.. bielive me it dont hert them.. you can tap sugar, black, red, silver, boxelder, norway, mountain, striped Maples and for the birch paper, gray, yellow birch….

  6. i dont see no harm done, people been doing this for 100s of years and silver and norway a perfect for tapping because they tough and grow fast less thena year the hole is gone,, sugar maples are not as tough and grow slower and take longer to heal and are not as tolerant to urban pollution but still people been doing this in citys for so long ,, and there is so much fun in to it, its like you collect sap and you make ur own maple syrup, it is hard to explan the fillings but some people they love it so much they do it for living. maybe u should try it and see from ur self linda , God made those trees for us and its a source of food they are not there for nothing….

  7. Urban sugaring is a challenge to educate people on the cost/benefit of sugaring in general. While urban sugar maple are under pressure from many sources. Sugaring is way down on the list as far as I’m concerned. Sidewalk/driveway construction, tilling or adding topsoil to encourage turf growth (smothering shallow feeder roots), and heavy pruning (topping) are what kill sugar maples. Take a walk this spring on a warm day with snowpack on the ground and look around the dripline of a maple. You’ll see sap drip marks from every broken limb that happened this winter. Urban trees need to be treated with respect from everyone. They are a gift and a treasure. Sustainably harvesting a minimal amount of sap from healthy trees only encourages appreciation from everyone that tastes the syrup or collects the sap. Preach low impact lawns, good construction practices, and good pruning techniques. Teaching people that maples provide sweet stuff and smiles leads to appreciation and conservation, even in the city. Last year a lady called the police because she thought I was “burning trash”. She told me this as I was giving a talk at a neighborhood even while she was tasting the syrup. People just need education and assurance that urban sugaring is being done in a low impact way. Keep up the good work Laurel.

  8. I moved south in the fall and I have two buckets and two spigots.
    A few years ago, at a Elders conference, a gathering of native canadian elders held in february each year at Trent U. When I last attended, one of the speakers spoke of healing and her communities age old practice of drinking 4 Gallons of maple sap each spring as the spring cleanse. So I have been doing this for 3 years as I was tapping one big red maple on my property.
    I moved to Toronto and now I don’t know where to go to tap.
    Any one who has a tree and doesn’t mind, I want to get going on this cleanse again.

  9. This sounds so exciting. I love maple syrup and always want to tap trees. How do you know the different types of maples? Is there a website I can access to determine what kind of maples I have. Even if we only got a bit of maple syrup, I know all of our family would be interested in the process.

  10. What a neat idea… sugaring off in the city. What a wonderful way to introduce & encourage a sustainable use of resources within city perimeters. Local food production is beneficial for so many ways. Here in the North Cariboo of BC (Quesnel – 8 hrs. north of Vanc.) we tap paper birch for birch syrup. With only 15 known commericial producers across this mighty country, and birch trees growing from coast to coast, to (almost) coast… this industry has a huge opportunity for expansion. The ratio for birch sap to syrup ranges from 100:1 to 120:1. Sugaring off “boreal forest style” is a great way to get outside in the early spring. Check out for more info. We offer birch tapping workshops, introductory tapping kits, and “The Birch Syrup Production Manual” – the only manual of its kind in Canada.

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