How Sweet It Is

March 9, 2022

The familiar view from the south-facing windows of Berkeley’s St. Luke’s Chapel has recently included a new feature, one unfamiliar to students not from New England: a five-gallon bucket plugged into a tree. It’s a maple tree, actually, and the cold mornings and warm-ish afternoons of late February/early March induce a sap run that fills the bucket in just a few days. The two maple trees on the grounds of the Berkeley Center have produced dozens of gallons of the clear, slightly sweet sap, which is boiled down into syrup, along with the sap from several trees on the YDS campus. Part of a larger DivFarm initiative led by Jonathan Lee, YDS ’22, Berkeley’s role is managed by students Claire Campbell, Chris Gregorio, and Gabe LePage, seen here sampling the fresh sap along with Lee. “It tastes like plant juice, which is what it is,” LePage observes. LePage, who grew up in Kenya, is a joint degree student in YDS and the Yale School of the Environment, who aspires to help faith communities steward their natural resources and promote environmental sustainability. Gregorio, a middler from Illinois, is one of the Berkeley Center house residents and the culinary guru for the “grab-and-go” community meals coming out of the Berkeley Center during the pandemic. Campbell, who hails from Arkansas, is an MAR student in Hebrew Bible doing research in ancient agricultural practices.