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 […]

Spider time & death-positive conferences

These are the days of the large orb weavers at Melleray Farmstead, cottage industrial home to Piedmont Pine Coffins. At dusk their webs are everywhere stretched across paths and under eaves and in corners. You root for them, except when you find them with your face in the morning. The orb weavers at the tail […]

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, […]

The Eagles!

Just in time for July 4th, here’s a post about Eagles. Not the Hotel California Eagles, but Gandalf’s Eagles and our eagles at Piedmont Pine Coffins. If you’ve ever read J.R.R. Tolkien or seen the movies based on his Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books, you know that giant eagles are his deus ex machina. Sort of. Or at least, […]

Late to the toxic burial party

What one Johnny from SC sent me last week makes me feel like a johnny-come-lately. For memory’s sake, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. Since August 2013, we promote simpler, greener burial options and help families reclaim the power of caring for our own dead. But how about since 2001? Forester and biologist Johnny Stowe sent me […]

DIY coffin exemplar

This DIY coffin will open your heart. Here’s the story. Recently a certain Mark in VA wrote me in extremis. A family member was near death, and though they’d already planned for a simple ceremony with unique touches, it was all happening too fast. Could I bring a coffin tomorrow? Shortly thereafter hospice arrived at the home, checked vitals, and […]

What a good death is

A good death, I told a recent client. Your mom died a good death. “Yes, I think so. Thank you,” she said. Death is having a moment in popular culture. (To be clear, death is always having its moment, isn’t it, just not always as a media darling.) So what’s a good death, and is […]

Six feet under is too deep

Six feet under is too deep for a green burial. I’ll demonstrate with a recent animal burial from Melleray Farmstead. For those of you just joining in, Melleray Farmstead is the cottage industrial home of Piedmont Pine Coffins. Here in the summer-lush piedmont of central NC, we live off the grid and have animals and […]

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 […]

Green burial cemetery — what is it?

So what is a green burial cemetery? It’s come up in conversation lately because I’ve been asking family members, How do you want to be buried? Trying, as I should, to walk the talk of a green burial advocate — and plan ahead! One relative said he’d prefer to be buried in a green burial cemetery. […]

It’s illegal, plus other green burial myths

Interested in a simple pine box coffin? It’s illegal, goes one of the top green burial myths. Who wants to be a scofflaw for all eternity? So we better look into this and find out. For those readers just joining in, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. At our cottage industrial home, the off-grid Melleray Farmstead […]

Burial vs cremation: WWJBD?

In burial vs cremation, which is greener? Well, WWJBD? No, that’s not James Brown. No, not Jimmy Buffet either. Nor Justin Bieber, Johann Sebastian Bach, or Jessica Biel. Not Joan Baez. Not Jennifer Lopez, either. I just like her, that’s why. Not Jason Bourne. Not Jack Bauer or Joe Biden. Not Julie Byrne. What would James […]

Green Burial Information Session Earth Day 2014

Piedmont Pine Coffins is hosting a green burial information session at the Chatham County library in Pittsboro, NC. We chose Earth Day (Tue 22 April) to celebrate the more environmentally friendly options available with green burial. We will meet in the Holmes Room at 6:00 pm. Attendees will get to hear, in broad strokes, what […]

Green burial New York publicity push

The omphalos of it all — NYC — now knows green burial, thanks to Amy Cunningham. With her recent premium publicity, she IS green burial New York. Amy is the blogger and funeral director behind The Inspired Funeral. She has put together a mighty fine collection of links for someone who wants a primer on […]

Green burial documentary to be screened in Blacksburg, VA

Those of us in the Piedmont of NC may know about the Durham green burial documentary A Will For the Woods, which chronicles a dying man’s drive to create a green burial cemetery in which to be interred. That cemetery is Wake Forest’s own Pine Forest Memorial Gardens. South Carolina vs. the Old North State in […]