Celebrating maple at the Yale Landscape Lab

By: Ryan N. Croteau

The Yale community gathered on Friday, April 15 at the newly constructed West Campus barn for Celebrating Maple: foodways, forests and climate change. Part of the wider satellite of events marking the week-long United Nations Global Colloquium, the year’s annual maple festival offered a chance to interact with and learn about one of the Northeast’s cultural foodways – the maple.

Maplefest attendees were able to follow the sap process from harvest to syrup. Julius Pasay, Manager of the Yale Forests lent his insights into the role of the maple industry in maintaining thriving northeasten forests. Craig Brodersen, an assistant professor of plant physiological ecology at the School of Forestry and Environmental studies, toured the West Campus sugar bush discussing the dynamic of how exactly sap moves through a maple tree. Interns from the Yale Sustainable Food Program were also on hand to describe the sap harvest process. From there, Chris Jamilkowski of Yale Dining talked to attendees about how he turns the West Campus sap into syrup and how he incorporated it into the snacks he and Yale Hospitality provided.

Highlighting numerous environmental projects across more than 136 acres of natural and built landscape at West Campus, Justin Freiberg welcomed friends and partners to the new barn, hub for the Yale Landscape Lab as platform for endless opportunities for research and learning within touching distance of New Haven. 

“Maplefest is the perfect inaugural event for the Yale Landscape Lab, bringing together our faculty, staff, students, and their families to celebrate New England’s iconic landscape and its cultural foodway,” said Freiberg, director of the Landscape Lab. “It is a fun example but also sets the path for our invaluable partnerships across Yale. We want you all to envision your ideas and projects at West Campus. We’re here to help you do so.”  

Building on numerous projects already completed or underway, the Landscape Lab provides a platform for the Yale community to research and demonstrate sustainability solutions connecting the natural and built environment. With collaborative spaces including the West Campus Urban Farm and a network of nature trails connecting the dozens of acres of greenspace on campus, the Lab has a growing portfolio of work spanning food systems, health sciences, ecology, energy systems, entrepreneurship, and land use, with a focus on building valued collaborations that benefit scholars across Yale.

The timber frame barn will serve as an outdoor hub for many of the Landscape Lab’s activities, and for classes from across Yale. Inspired by long-standing barns found throughout Connecticut and New England, it allows for the traditional timber frame design and Yale Forest-sourced wood to shine. Its final form is, however, not necessarily fully traditional. It is designed to allow for a variety of uses and activities, and to facilitate further experimentation – right in line with the Landscape Lab’s mission.

Learn more about the Yale Landscape Lab here.