True North Treks Walden Institute continues to grow with new additions to their property with possible health benefits to more than just the guest staying with them.
The Walden Institute located Au Train offers cancer patients and their caregivers an opportunity to become connected again after the disconnecting experience of cancer utilizing the natural beauty of this property.
Kile Zuidema Walden Institute facilities lead told us, “We have a mission statement here to use our land and for the health benefits of using land for participants, this will be a perfect example how you can use your own trees to make a healthy product.”
Following that mission, TNT partnered with Michigan State University, Northwestern and Illinois Institute of Technology obtaining an ACER Maple Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, to study the benefits of maple water for cancer patients.
This intricate extraction system with over 200 taps utilizes about 2 to 3 acres of red and sugar maples said Zuidema and while demonstrating how they start each tree, he told us, “Each tap gets drilled into the tree and then once it’s in the tree it drops down into the lateral lines and then and feeds into the main line, which is the 1 inch down there, and everything is such a nice slope here goes all the way down with the help of a vacuum pump.
Zuidema says from the time they tap a tree the sugar water instantly starts flowing and is drawn to tanks accumulating for transporting and he explained, “It can fill up in half of a day, so maybe at 11 am when it starts to about 2 or three in the afternoon, it will fill that tank 300 gallons.”
According to Kile they currently transport the sap to MSU for processing and with the help of the ACER grant TNT is scheduled to have a sugar shack build this year to process onsite, cutting the process down to a single day vs the multiple days they are currently spending.
With 2 years of the grant to go, TNT plans to establish the best schedule to extract the highest concentrated sap during extraction season before entering the testing stage to study the possible benefits for cancer patient recovery time using this natural resource.
In addition to creating a possible product that will help with cancer patients’ recovery time, Zuidema says they hope to create a natural sugar energy drink eliminating the chemicals found in the ones we have available today.