If you have noticed from our previous blogs, we are pretty proud of our team at East Hill Creamery. You have met Dan, Jason, and Eli. Dan is our logger, Jason is our dirt-worker, and Eli is our Amish post and beam builder. These are the guys who are doing all the behind-the-scenes work so that you can enjoy our beautiful creamery and delicious cheese in the near future. We are going to continue profiling members of our team, and this week we are very excited to introduce you to Bruce Robinson.
Bruce is from Monterey, New York, and he is our forester. If you recall from previous blogs, we take great pride in our forest, and we are using the timber from it to build our creamery. It is really important for us to use our own local resources and to use them in a sustainable, renewable way. That is why we need Bruce. He teaches us all about the woods of our forest and what we should harvest and use.
Bruce grew up very poor, on a small farm with only 4 acres on the southern tier of New York. He said they grew all their own food. He and his siblings were raised by his Mom, who was a seamstress and a single parent. It was with some good encouragement from a guidance counselor that Bruce decided to pursue forestry. He was the first in his family to attend college, and he wanted to go to Syracuse, but they told him that he didn’t have the financial resources to be accepted. He didn’t let them discourage him, however, and he attended Paul Smith’s Forestry School in the Adirondacks. After he completed his two years there, he then was accepted to Syracuse, where he graduated with a forestry degree.
Bruce worked for the New York State Department of Conservation for 14 years, and then he took a part time job with a church in Jamestown, New York, and also worked part time doing private consulting as a forester. He decided to become a full time private forestry consultant in 1985, and he has grown his business to include 3 other foresters. Through his business, he manages 200,000 acres of forest, which is all private, mostly small, projects. Some examples of things that he helps people to do is make their sugar bush (maple syrup producing forest) become more productive, and he also helps people to manage their timber sales.
Bruce and his wife Joann celebrated 41 years of marriage this past week. Back in the day, Bruce was giving a presentation in Jamestown, and Joann was impressed by the presentation and came up afterward to ask Bruce a question. The question led to their 41 years of marriage, a son who works with Bruce as a forester, and a daughter who has three grandchildren and is a librarian. His son-in-law is a teacher, and his wife Joann is also a retired teacher.
They are a family of educators! When Bruce has some free time, he ironically likes to cut wood, because both he and his son heat their homes with wood. He also enjoys gardening, and he has acres of beautiful flowers, such as daffodils, that he happily gives away to those who will enjoy them. He and his son are also big baseball card collectors, and he is also an avid bird watcher.
We at East Hill rely heavily on Bruce’s expertise to help us manage our timber (three pictures of wooden posts and beams for our Creamery are shown below) and use the right resources from it to build our creamery. When asked what Bruce likes about working with East Hill, he eagerly replied, “Gary (Burley) is particularly enthusiastic about the forest. He enjoys spending time in the woods trying to figure out ways to improve it. He is an excellent farmer, and a frustrated forester because of the prior management of the forest lands that he has acquired. The logging industry, in general, has little regard for the forest resource for generations to come. They (Gary and Betty Burley) really want to know lots about their forest. They ask a lot of questions, and they want to do the right thing with their forest from an education standpoint.”
We cannot say enough good things about Bruce. His humble beginnings produced a person who is very common sense oriented. Gary has learned so much from him and is very grateful for the time that Bruce spends explaining the complex ecology of the woodlands. It is wonderful to learn how to use our forest resources as best as we can while making sure that we are leaving our forest in better condition than we found it, so that our children and grandchildren can continue to take joy and delight in it (and use the wood as well!) for years to come. Bruce's philosophy and practice coincides with Gary & Betty's forest management plans. We hoped you enjoyed ‘meeting’ him, and please, as always, ask us any questions that you may have about Bruce or our forest. We can’t wait for you to see our forest on display in the beautiful East Hill Creamery. Thanks for reading!