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Our Team

Michael Farrell, Co-Founder and CEO

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Michael first learned about the wonders of maple syrup during a college field trip while obtaining his masters degree in forestry from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, N.Y. He then started tapping trees on his childhood property and soon after went on to serve for 13 years as the Director of Cornell University’s Uihlein Forest, a maple syrup research and extension field station in Lake Placid, N.Y. Michael focused his efforts on the sustainable development of the maple syrup industry, assisted thousands of sugarmakers with their own operations, and conducted a great deal of research and education on the potential for tapping other species beyond maple. His Ph.D. dissertation at Cornell explored the future growth of the maple industry and the many factors that will impact development. In 2013, he authored The Sugarmakers Companion: An integrated guide to producing syrup from maple, birch, and walnut trees. In 2017, Michael turned over a new leaf and gave up his position at Cornell to focus entirely on the development of New Leaf Tree Syrups - the world’s most diverse array of organic tree syrups. He is passionate about making the most of our incredible forest resources and is fully active in all aspects of The Forest Farmers’ mission. He lives with his wife Andrea and their three wonderful children in the peaceful woods of Lake Placid, N.Y.

Kirklyn Denis, Forester

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There is a saying that the best fertilizer for a piece of land is the landowner’s footprints. We are fortunate to have Kirklyn Denis walking our forested lands every day to ensure our management activities are being executed in the most efficient and environmentally friendly manner as possible. Kirklyn grew up working and playing in the Adirondack forests near Tupper Lake, N.Y., and went to nearby Paul Smiths College to pursue his degree in forestry. No stranger to hard work, Kirklyn spent time fighting fires in the western U.S., but we are glad he decided to spend his time closer to home in our woods! He lays out all of our roads and tubing systems for optimal design, marks which trees need to be cut, and oversees all timber harvesting to exact specifications. When he isn’t in the woods, Kirklyn is an avid skier, both on the open water and down the steepest mountains.

Bill Louis, NY Operations Manager

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With over 500 miles of food-grade tubing strung among our trees, over the rivers, and through the woods, we are very fortunate to have Bill Louis managing our N.Y. operations. A plumber by trade, Bill has taken a lifetime of experience with plumbing and irrigation to oversee one of the largest tree sap plumbing operations in the world. Bill grew up in the same small town where he now gets to spend each and every day engaged in work he loves. Bill certainly knows the value of hard work­–having helped at the family dairy farm for much of his adolescence and running his own sugaring operation for many years. His experience running a large scale bottling line at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals has been invaluable in ensuring that our syrup is always bottled to exact specifications with the highest quality at all times. He lives with his wife and daughter nearby and spends as many weekends as possible at the Louis Lodge, a beautiful log cabin surrounded by our woodlands.

 

Scott Williams, VT Sugarbush Manager

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‘Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.’ Herman Hesse

Scott grew up on a farm outside of Bennington Vermont, where he worked a 100 acre sugaring operation during his youth hauling heavy buckets of sap back to the sugarhouse. After serving in the US Navy, he attended Marlboro College where he worked as a forester’s assistant, a logger, and a ‘tree monkey.’ Scott also has a law degree and worked as an attorney for many years before returning to his roots to manage the 3,000+ acre Marshfield operation. He is always accompanied by his service dog Luca. When not in our beautiful forest, Scott, his partner Lynn, and Luca can typically be found camping somewhere in the White, Green, or Adirondack Mountains.

Thomas Ruggiero, National Director of Sales

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We are very fortunate to have Thomas Ruggiero heading up our sales department. Tom has more than 30 years of experience across diverse channels in the food industry with a more recent focus in the maple industry. He has worked with large enterprises, including as the brand and private label category manager for A&P and Shoprite, and has managed sales teams across North America for large brands such as Pomi, Beech-Nut, Godiva, Betty Crocker and Parmalat. Tom has facilitated the successful launch of three new brands and is excited to bring New Leaf Tree Syrups to a wide audience across the globe! He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with bachelor degrees in public administration and geology and lives with his wife in Newburgh, NY.

 

Andrew Farrell, Marketing Intern

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As the nephew of our CEO and cofounder Michael Farrell, Andrew  has been around maple syrup his entire life. He started out drinking sap straight from the tree and pouring pure maple syrup on everything his parents would let him.  Andrew focused several of his science fair projects over the years on various sap and syrup projects and is now doing an internship with us to look at all of the market opportunities for the wide variety of tree saps and syrups we produce. He lives in Albany, NY and currently attends Albany High School.