So that our love may blossom

I always listen to this one special song in December, and I catch a weep. Listen below, and you’ll catch some monastic wisdom. If you’re just joining us, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. In our death work and off-grid farmstead life here in central North Carolina, US of A, we take inspiration from monks and […]

Countercultural coffins and urns

In a radio interview I did recently, here are words that came out of my mouth: We always wanted to be countercultural — in an ADMIRABLE way.  Revelatory. Never knew I thought that till that moment. Really, the things a soul will pronounce on when you’re distracted by wires and microphones. I was referring to the […]

Decline and fall of the Romaine Empire

At Melleray Farmstead, cottage-industrial home to Piedmont Pine Coffins, there’s a big garden with a deer-proof fence. Go to market with lettuce? Yes, please, that’s the dream. But that was before the decline and fall of my romaine empire. For new readers just joining in, we operate on 32 pleasant acres of fields and woods […]

The freedom to hoist one sail

I am ever and still caught in the breeze of a smile I once saw. The smile of a certain young monk. For new readers, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. We help families do more affordable funerals, naturally. In our work and in our life, we take some inspiration from monks and monasteries down through […]

Spilt milk: a monastic lesson for activists

It was during the time I left teaching to make coffins that our Dexter cow had her first calf and began to give milk. For readers just joining, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. We make our boxes with hand tools and take our inspiration from farmsteads and monasteries through the ages: self-sufficiency, hospitality, and a […]

What’s the use of profit?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here, then maybe pipe down. I want to die (and live?) poor. But Piedmont Pine Coffins is a business, and the purpose of a business is to generate profit. What are the uses? B-corps, donations, foundations, community action, and the rest. I’ll let you read up on […]

Mid life crisis and the skulls of Mt. Athos

Mid life crisis wants metanoia. Metanoia is Greek for a “change of heart” — a transformation and conversion — and it’s a monastic specialty. For those just joining in, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. We advocate natural burial and make pine boxes for it. We take some of our inspiration from the examples of monks and […]

I want to die poor

I want to die poor. Funny thing for an entrepreneur to say, but saying it I am. Here’s why. For those not in the know, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins and we help families with natural burials. We make simple pine box coffins, urns, and pet caskets. Since we opened in August 2013, our revenues […]

Monastic hospitality and green burial

Monastic hospitality links firmly with green burial – both things we’re fans of here at Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial home to Piedmont Pine Coffins. What’s the link? Well, we are all guests, we are all just passing. You might say that we are guests passing through this magnificent Earth. Both stewardship (in our context, […]

A dirty joke on me

Here’s a dirty one for you. Turn away if you must from the tail end of the cow at Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial campus for Piedmont Pine Coffins. However, since readers of the GBCB tend to be open-minded, not to mention good-looking and intelligent, I expect you’ll take it all in dirty stride. But […]

Why use pine, plus bonus ruminations

Why I use pine, in seven reasons, as follows. Most are poetical, as you’ll see. First is for green burial: Pine degrades quickly in contact with earth and water. This trait is great for ashes-to-ashes, dust-to-dust. The second is for business. Pine is not expensive. The last five – the five senses of taste and touch, etc. […]

Honey Creek Woodlands

Joe Whittaker and his wife Sherry visited us this past weekend at Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial home of Piedmont Pine Coffins. Joe manages Honey Creek Woodlands, the conservation burial ground tucked into the woods at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA. The monks there are of the Christian Benedictine variety, and most […]

Cool Spring Natural Cemetery

At a monastery in Virginia, death is like a cool spring: the Cool Spring Natural Cemetery at Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville. Piedmont Pine Coffins and its cottage industrial home, Melleray Farmstead, proclaim to take inspiration, in part, from monks and monasteries. And it’s true! The retreats and visits I’ve made during the course of […]

Melleray Latin Academy 2014

Melleray Latin Academy 2014 — it’s our second summer of free enrichment in heritage skills and languages for local high schoolers. For those just joining in, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins, a company that makes green burial coffins and helps families reclaim the right to care for our own dead. We are based at Melleray […]

To be a saint: market day @ Melleray Farmstead

If you’d like to know how to be a saint, don’t necessarily follow me, but do read on. The first market day — Sunday 8 June — for the Garden Project at Melleray Farmstead netted about $180. Garlic, potatoes, shallots and sugar peas were going like sourdough pancakes at a gold miners’ camp. The Garden Project […]