Tap O.N.E. Brings Vermont's Sweet Springtime Tradition to Burlington's Old North End | Food News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Tap O.N.E. Brings Vermont's Sweet Springtime Tradition to Burlington's Old North End

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Sage King of Tap O.N.E. demonstrates a maple tapping setup - JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • Sage King of Tap O.N.E. demonstrates a maple tapping setup
Sap buckets are a common sight during maple syrup season in rural Vermont. And now, a group of friends and Old North End locals in Burlington are tapping into the city's potential with Tap O.N.E.

The new volunteer-led community initiative hopes to get the neighborhood's residents outside to connect with Vermont's sweetest springtime tradition, one sugar maple at a time.

"The core group of us grew up and went to high school together [at Mount Mansfield Union High School], and share an appreciation for the woods of Vermont," said Sage King, one of Tap O.N.E.'s team members. "There are pockets of that kind of beauty in Burlington, and specifically in the Old North End, that we wanted to show people."



A Tap O.N.E bucket hung on an ash tree as part of a tree-tapping demonstration - JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • A Tap O.N.E bucket hung on an ash tree as part of a tree-tapping demonstration
The idea for the project came from Walter Poleman, senior lecturer and director of the Ecological Planning Program at the University of Vermont, whose children, Maeve and Wynne Poleman, are part of the group. "He seeded the idea and let us run with it," King explained.

The group made an Instagram and designed a logo, hanging flyers around town encouraging residents to I.D. their trees and get involved.

From there, they gathered donated buckets and tapping materials and "some local talent," King said.

Tap O.N.E. member Will Dunkley operates his family's maple business, Westford Sugarworks. He and his sisters Isabelle and Ada have lent their expertise to the process. Other members of the volunteer team include Angus Doherty, Ben Hallman and Max King.

The group has tapped roughly 20 trees so far, both on private and public land, including at Lakeview Cemetery. The initiative has support from the city's arborist and from the Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Department, King said. As word has spread, residents have reached out from the Old North End and beyond, looking for help identifying and tapping their maple trees.

"It's not uncommon to have a maple tree in your backyard and not even know it," King said. "Even me — I consider myself a layman — I just learned how to identify them."
Angus Doherty checks the temperature of boiling sap at Tap O.N.E's first boil - JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • Angus Doherty checks the temperature of boiling sap at Tap O.N.E's first boil
With this week's balmy weather, the sap started running and the group hosted its first boil in an Old North End backyard on Wednesday afternoon.

Using a small propane-fired evaporator, they estimated a yield of about a quart of syrup at the usual 40-to-1 sap-to-syrup ratio. Team members took turns checking the temperature of the boiling sap and answering questions from curious onlookers.

"It's starting to smell good," Isabelle Dunkley said as the steam rose from the evaporating pan. The sap had been boiling for about an hour, and Dunkley explained that the process would take a while — the evaporator doesn't concentrate the sugars as quickly as the reverse-osmosis machines used by bigger maple operations.

Tap O.N.E.'s first sap boil - JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • Tap O.N.E.'s first sap boil
Tap O.N.E will continue to collect the communal sap and boil it into maple syrup throughout the season, sharing the results with the neighborhood's residents and community members whose trees they've tapped.

"It goes to show that there is nature in Burlington, and it's worth sharing the knowledge that we can gain from that nature," Sage King said. "Even if it's just tapping some sap and making maple sugar out of it. It can be kind of a magical thing."

If you have a sugar maple you'd like to tap — or if you need help identifying trees in your backyard — reach out to Tap O.N.E. on Instagram or via the interest form on their website.