On Monday, team members tapped maple trees in the woods at Stockton University, while mathematics professor, Judith Vogel, offered a taste of her homemade maple syrup made from her family's trees nearby.
"My girls have this understanding that things like syrup and honey take time. And it takes process and it's year's worth of work for a little bit of product," said Vogel.
The demonstration was part of the kickoff for a new pilot program, and researchers are looking for property owners with maple trees, especially if those landowners have multiple acres.
"With the goal of letting Stockton students and faculty go into their property and take measurements to understand why their land is or is not good for producing sap," said Aaron Stoler, assistant professor of Environmental Science at Stockton University.
Stockton was recently awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study South Jersey's potential for syrup production and its effect on the environment.
"The soil quality on this land is great, the soil quality is not great. What does it do to the wildlife? What does it do to the other vegetation in the forest?" Stoler said, rattling off a few things for which his team will look.
Researchers will focus mainly on red maples. They're not as commonly used for syrup production as the sugar maple. But red maples are readily found in New Jersey and often cut down for firewood.
Stockton will supply the equipment to study participants, along with a lesson on tree tapping.
They'll even bring an economist in to analyze their data when they're done. While researchers don't expect New Jersey to be the next Vermont, they do hope to learn a lot about New Jersey's trees.
"We really want to introduce people to the value of the land that they have, and if in some way it can prevent deforestation, that, to us, is the biggest win," said Vogel.
Anyone interested in participating in the study can contact Judith Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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