Rocky Ridge Neighbors celebrate 10 years of making maple syrup, giving back
What started as a nature hike through Mill Creek Metroparks turned into a labor of love.
"We have about 100 trees that we tapped, and we all collect that by hand and my friends and my colleagues we all do the collection and the cooking," says John Slanina, President of the Rocky Ridge Neighborhood Association.
And now a decade later and hundreds and hundreds of bottles sold, the Rocky Ridge Neighborhood Association has found a sweet spot between perfecting their craft and supporting local charities.
"We give away as a charity the money from selling the syrup. So half of it goes to the park and the other half goes to other charities," adds Slanina.
Some of the other ways the group has given back with the money they raise are by helping with summer reading programs, purchasing IPads for the Mahoning County Library, and planting more maple trees within the neighborhood.
The group actually raised enough money to build the building and equipment where they make the maple syrup which is located just behind the Judge Morley Performing Arts Pavilion in Mill Creek Park.
"There's a ratio of about 45 to 1 between what we put in a tree and what we put in a bottle. So it will take 45 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup," says Slanina.
Maple Syrup season varies from location to location, but the length of the season and how much maple syrup is produced are directly impacted by the weather.
"We tapped at the beginning of February and we had a really good two-week period, but after that, it's been off and on. You need the cycles of above-freezing days and below-freezing nights and those cycles are what helps moves the sap in the tree and make it come out of the tree," says Slanina.
The hours can be tough too! All the neighbors volunteer their time, some days for around 5 hours, some for 12 hours or longer.
They are in the process of bottling their syrup and it is expected to go on sale at the end of March or early April, and it's sold exclusively at Fellow's Riverside Gardens.