Chatham County, of thee I sing

Chatham County NCLive in Chatham County? Then you count yourself lucky. Don’t? Move and likely you will.

It was Chatham County’s predilection for the fringe of possible on the fringe of the Research Triangle that attracted us — my father and me, in 2006 — when we were looking for land. At that point Piedmont Pine Coffins and its cottage industrial home Melleray Farmstead were not yet conceived. You can read more about that predilection and the early days of the farmstead in the book Twelve by Twelve by Bill Powers. It tells the story of one man’s experience sojourning in a small cabin just down the road from us in Chatham County. The cabin actually belongs to a fantastic lady who happens to be the one who showed my dad and me how to build and use a dry toilet. Talk about essential off-grid skills!

Why is Chatham County a natural fit for Piedmont Pine Coffins? There is a traditional agricultural base towards the west and a progressive business base towards the east. Both groups, with the right message, should be receptive to pine box coffins. The old farmers, because of tradition, and the progressives, because they’re eco-friendly. (And for both groups, because they’re moderately priced!)

Here are a few simpatico organizations in Chatham County. Those noted are a sampling. C’mon and live here if you want to find out more. I’m know I’m glad I came.

The Abundance Foundation, the Livestock Conservancy, and the Rural Advancement Foundation push for local and sustainable causes in business, energy, and farming. Our local state cooperative extension is known for growing the count of small farms in Chatham County. The Ruritan Club in Silk Hope sponsors the Old Fashioned Farmers Day that preserves traditional farmstead skills like boiling down cane molasses and steam-powered wood milling. My first coffin sale ever came from an appearance at this fiesta. At the same park meets a group that teaches Appalachian music to young students. There are two outstanding working blacksmiths, Larry and Peter. For your vices, Circle City Cigars (local handmade cigars) and Fair Game Beverage Company (spirits and fortified wines) are recent arrivals on the scene. (What excuse could one gin up to ever leave the county again?) We have a school for learning hand-tool woodworking run by public TV icon Roy Underhill and a shop for said hand tools right above it. We have great coffee shops in Siler City (Courtyard Cafe) and Pittsboro (Blue Dot) that exclusively use locally roasted beans. We have farm-to-fork restaurants such as Angelina’s Kitchen and Succotashed. There’s an arts incubator in Siler City and an annual farm tour put on by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.

Chatham County and the Milo Holt Western Film Festival

The Milo Holt Film Festival

Chatham County and the Milo Holt Western Film Festival

The Milo Holt Film Festival

Chatham County and the Milo Holt Film Festival

And we have Milo Holt. Milo was a Siler City native son who so loved Western flicks that since 2011 they’ve made a special fiesta in his honor. Piedmont Pine Coffins was out on the streets amidst the gunslingers this past weekend for the 2014 Milo Holt Western Film Festival. I had great fun enticing passersby with my standard Western film coffin trivia question: Name the Clint Eastwood movie that contains the line: “Get three coffins ready.” For the answer, click here. I didn’t sell any coffins on the spot, but I did get Chief Silverheels’ card. He tells me he wants to use a coffin for a coffee table until it’s time to go in the ground.

So here’s to you, Chatham County. You’ve made me a good home, and you’ve made good rubbing elbows for a business called Piedmont Pine Coffins.