Brian Ryther, Interviewed by Alexander Dubois, November 30, 2013
Location of Interview: Fenimore Art Museum Research Library, Cooperstown, New York
Brian Ryther produces maple syrup in New Lisbon, New York, the town where he was born in 1977. Alongside his father and brother, Mr. Ryther spent his childhood collecting and boiling maple sap from the family’s trees. He studied industrial construction, and used these skills when building equipment for his sugar house. In 2006, he established his own company, Mill Hollow Maple. In this story, Mr. Ryther talks about how he cares for his trees.
BR: Well, I make my living from a natural product; I make my living from nature. So environment’s everything. Being a steward to the land and making sure that you don’t impact the land adversely, from little things like which trees do you cut down to help the forest. If you cut the wrong trees, you’re going to kill other trees that you don’t want to. You don’t drive your vehicles in the forest and hurt the root structure. You don’t pollute. All those things. We have the threat in our area of natural gas drilling, specifically hydrofracking. And it really could be a negative impact on our environment. We see what they’ve done in Pennsylvania with chemical spill releases and contaminating our water systems. Now for me the maple sap comes from the water in the ground and the trees, what the roots of the trees eat. If our groundwater is contaminated, that kills our environment, kills our maple syrup, kills our farming; all [sacrificed] for cheap, quick energy. And those are things that we are actively against.