Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 66.24
Liaison Justin Mog
Submission Date Feb. 27, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Louisville
IN-27: Innovation D

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Justin Mog
Assistant to the Provost for Sustainability Initiatives
Office of the Provost
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Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Maple Tapping on Campus

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

Each winter in the early spring semester, students, faculty, staff, and community partners participate in tapping trees on campus to make syrup and learn about the process and the evolving climatic and biological factors involved in a successful enterprise.

It all began in Spring 2016, when non-science-major students in new Sustainable Community Engagement sections of BIOL 104 - Laboratory for Introduction to Biological Systems experimented with tapping trees on Belknap campus to gather sap for syrup, learn about the process, and study the environmental conditions that influence it. UofL's maple trees on campus had never been tapped before, so students, faculty and staff were involved in learning about this new urban agroforestry resource on campus.

In 2019, the project was picked up as a component of a new interdisciplinary SUST 480-01 course in Urban Agriculture taught by Urban & Public Affairs professor, Tamara Sluss. Public involvement remained strong as everyone was invited to the January 19th Garden Commons Maple Tapping Workshop led by our community partner, Dave Barker. The impact of the event was magnified by terrific local news coverage on WDRB-TV, and professional photos produced by UofL's photographer. Everyone is also invited to learn more about the process while enjoying the fruits of the 2019 season at an April 19th EcoReps Lunch & Learn workshop: UofL Maple Tapping & Pancake Party!

In 2018, the project evolved into an extracurricular Living Lab project for students, employees, and the public, in association with the UofL Garden Commons. The effort began on January 12, 2018 with a Maple Tapping Workshop at the Garden Commons, and continued with volunteers signing-up to monitor and empty sap buckets around campus. On Feburary 3, 2018, our community partner in making maple syrup from UofL trees, Dave Barker, hosted an open house at his sugar shack for anyone interested in maple syrup production. UofL Biology Professor Linda Fuselier and several UofL students went on a field trip to see the syrup-making process in action. It was a very productive year and there was plenty of syrup produced for an April 13th EcoReps Lunch & Learn: Urban Forestry & Pancake Party with UofL Maple Syrup! Our community partner, Dave Barker, was able to produce 30 gallons of maple syrup thanks to 19 productive taps on Belknap and 120 taps on Shelby Campus.

In 2017, the project expanded from one to two sections of BIOL 104, allowing for a doubling of the number of students involved and the number of trees tapped. TA Grace Freundlich taught both sections (with guidance from Biology professor Linda Fuselier). The Biology Department invested in its own tapping equipment and experimented with tapping other kinds of trees for sap. The syrup-making arrangement with our community partner, Dave Barker, was maintained and he oversaw the tapping of trees on UofL's Shelby Campus for the first time ever. A hands-on Maple Tapping Workshop for the whole campus community and general public was added (Feb. 13th, 2017) as well as the April 21st EcoReps Lunch & Learn: Making Maple Syrup from UofL Trees (Pancake Party!). At UofL's Fall 2017 Farm-To-Table Dinner, an even wider audience was exposed to the project as the Sustainability Council's Inaugural Sustainability Award Honors Our Maple Maven, Dave Barker.

In 2016, 28 students were engaged in the project taught by College of Education and Human DevelopmentD PhD candidate Melissa Michael (with guidance from Biology professor Linda Fuselier). They tapped 12 maple trees (two sugar maples and ten red maples) from 2/18/16 – 3/11/16 on maples near the College of Education, the Interfaith Center, and Schneider Hall. The students split into seven groups to design experiments and gather data while collecting the sap. The sap was processed into 2 quarts of syrup by Dave Barker, a community-partner who operates an artisanal sugar shack in Lyndon. Students were invited to an optional field trip out to the sugar shack in March, and the project was shared with the larger campus community at the 4/15/16 EcoReps Lunch & Learn Workshop, which served as a Pancake Party for everyone to enjoy some of the UofL syrup! The project was also shared nationally with a poster presentation by Melissa Michael and Justin Mog at the 2016 conference of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) in Baltimore: Sticky Sustainability: Tapping Untapped Resources on Campus #ULMapleMadness.

This program is especially innovative for several reasons.

First, this may be the largest tapping project in Kentucky and may also be one of the most southerly tapping projects in North America. Sap production in Kentucky is mostly done by small time hobbyists. Tapping requires a specific climate and UofL is situated at the southern edge of where this is possible. This not only makes the program innovative for its regionally unparalleled nature, but for its ability to act as an indicator of climate change. If the regions climate becomes less favorable to tapping, we will have documentation of the change in our tree's productivity.

Second, it reaches a broad spectrum of students from who are passionate about sustainability to who know little about sustainability yet like pancakes. This enriches each of their understandings of the food systems which provide for our quality of life by allowing them to participate in various levels of production and consumption based on their personal interest level.

Finally, this program represents an institutional commitment to working with one's immediate environment to sustainably produce viable products. The trees we tap are not off in a forest secluded from students, staff and faculty. Tapping is integrated all throughout our campus, beside classroom buildings, dorms, and operational facilities. This is a feat of integrated urban agriculture that is uncommon for the area, where most agriculture is fielded separately from daily use paths and built environment.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Campus Engagement
Urban Agriculture

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :
The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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