Winter is a quiet time for me. I spend most of my time entering data, checking data, running analyses…really, the biggest distance I typically go during my work day is from my computer to the coffee maker. This is a far cry from my busy summer months during my field season (when ginseng grows). During this time, it is not unusual for me to be outside from sunrise to sunset collecting data. This month, I was able to do some cool outreach projects! I was able to give a “Lunch and Learn” at Phipps, as well as be a guest blogger for Phipps Science Education and Research Blog.
Since I am a graduate student, I still take classes that pertain to my research areas. I am interested in all of the uses of the woods. I was lucky enough to be able to sign up for a course about ‘sugarbush management and non-timber forest products.’ That is a super fancy way of saying ‘maple syrup making’ and ‘managing a small business that sells syrup.’ Non-timber forest products are items that you can sell that come from the woods, that aren’t timber (ex. medicinal plants, mushrooms, nuts, moss, etc.). Ginseng is a non-timber forest product. Ginseng needs to grow in heavily forested areas, and you can make money from selling it. If you cut down the forest, you ruin the habitat for ginseng.
Maple syrup is made from putting small holes in maple trees, collecting the sap- which is rich in natural sugars- and boiling it down. There are several ways you can collect the sap: buckets, bags, hoses, etc. Our course teaches us how to set up a system of hoses that connect to each silver or red maple tree in the woods. This allows the sap to flow, by gravity, down to a central location. Setting up the hoses in freezing temperatures takes a lot of work, but knowing that I will be able to enjoy the end product makes it worth it! I really like the idea of helping make maple-syrup production accessible to landowners, especially because this might help conserve ginseng habitat! You need forests to have maple syrup, and you need forests to have ginseng. Also, one of my best friends is taking the class with me. That is what I enjoy most about ‘non-timber forest products.’ I get to spend time in the great outdoors, looking at nature, and being with people I care about.
Jessica B. Turner's