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Hi Everyone,
If you’ve been thinking about visiting Penn Forest, this spring and summer we’re offering two popular events that should have you planning a trip here. We will also be out and about making public presentations. And if you don’t follow us on Facebook, this newsletter offers a list of recent Facebook posts including photos and videos of recent arrivals at Returning Home Farm. Enjoy!
Memorial Tree-Planting Days.  Saturday, April 27, 9:00am–12:00pm. Last year’s removal of about 100 ash trees felled by the emerald ash borer has left us with so much newly cleared land we decided to have two memorial tree-planting events this year. These events give lot owners and their families (and anyone else who’s interested) an opportunity to help with our forestation efforts by planting trees or shrubs at Penn Forest. The first planting will be Saturday, April 27th from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. (That’s the day after Arbor Day.) The second will be on October 19th.
To purchase a tree, just pick out a tree or shrub from our order form (request it by emailing and return it to Laura with your check. If you like, the tree can be in memory of or in honor of a loved one. Let us know if you will be here to help with the planting or if you need us to plant your tree for you. Orders must be in by April 20th for the April 27th planting. More details on the October 19th planting will be in subsequent newsletters.
After the tree-planting we will have a memorial service which will include a walk on our labyrinth. (This canvas labyrinth was donated to Penn Forest by Rev. Patricia Brown.)
The Ninth Annual Penn Forest Picnic
Please join us on Saturday, June 1st, 2019 from 11:00 am - 4:00 pm (rain or shine) at Penn Forest Natural Burial Park. We will celebrate the cemetery, Returning Home Farm, and all of you! Penn Forest will provide grilled meat and nonmeat options, lemonade and water. We are asking you to bring a favorite potluck dish to share, lawn chairs, and your own beverage if lemonade or water doesn’t cut it for you. Bring your hiking or tennis shoes for tours of the property and to visit to the barnyard. This will be another opportunity to walk the labyrinth. Take an abbreviated Yoga with Goats class. MaryPat will direct the third series of goat races. Everyone is wondering if Tourmaline can hold on to her winning record from the last two year’s picnic. 
Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome at the cemetery but cannot visit the barnyard because they upset the goats and sheep. 
Music will be provided by the Squirrel Hillbillies who play an acoustic mix of Folk, Country, and Blues. Have a listen.
Wow! What a windstorm.  Sunday February 24th was a windy day around here.  Trees down all over. One took out a couple of recently planted trees in the grove C burial area. An ancient silver maple (the one with the rope swing) came down by the house and smashed Nancy and Pete’s cars. Luckily insurance covered the damage.
Building Bridges to Rwanda.  Many of you know Rev. Patricia Brown who has officiated at several graveside services and other Penn Forest events. But fewer of you know about her mother, Arlene Brown. After the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Arlene decided, at age 63, to move to Rwanda and start an orphanage. Today, at age 88 she’s still there, and her orphanage has grown to include a school with 800 students. 
On Saturday April 27th and Sunday April 28th ‘Mama’ Arlene will be back in Pittsburgh and holding a fundraiser on the Northside at the WBU Event Venue and Spring Hill Brewing to help support her school on the Northside.  Saturday’s event will be held from 6:00 – 9:00 pm and is free.  Sunday’s event will be held from 1:00 – 4:00 pm.  The tickets for Sunday’s event are $20 for one ticket, $35 for two tickets, $150 for a table of eight.  You can purchase tickets at under the event name Bridging Pittsburgh to Rwanda.  You can purchase tickets by email at  You can also purchase tickets by calling 412-999-1912.  If you can’t attend but would still like to donate, you can do so at and just note that you are donating to the “Bridges” goal.  Pittsburgh’s very own Lynn Hayes-Freeland will be Sunday’s Mistress of Ceremonies!
Website Update.  The Locate Graves section of our website has been updated.  Now, when you enter the deceased’s name into the search area and hit submit, a nice box pops up with their picture (if it’s provided by the family), their name, birth and death dates, and burial location.  When you click on their name it will then take you to their memorial webpage.  Also, you can now see who has recently been interred at Penn Forest by scrolling down in the Locate Graves section.
Green Burial Council is looking for board members. If you or anyone you know is interested in joining this dynamic group of advocates for environmentally responsible funeral and burial practices, please send applications to: by 5 pm on March 30, 2019. Download the application here. To learn more about GBC board work, go to the GBC Website to become familiar with Bylaws, Board Member Job Description, Board Member Expectations, and past IRS financial statements.
Did you know… Penn Forest offers discounts on cemetery lot purchases when you buy in volume. If your church group or other organization is interested in saving money by purchasing 5, 10 or more lots, contact us and we’ll send you our volume discount price list.
Bees Coming to PF. Local beekeeper, Adele Towers, is bringing bees back to Penn Forest.  Sometime this April she will be starting two new hives, which are called nucs.  It will take about a year until these hives are established.  With any luck, they will be producing next summer.
Birds and Bees Walk and Talk.  We will be hosting a bird identification walk and a presentation on Bees this summer.  A representative from the Audubon Society will be here to conduct the Birds portion and a local beekeeper will be here for the Bees portion.  If you are interested in the Birds and Bees please join us!  The date is to be determined as we are ironing out the rest of the details at the moment.  If you are interested in attending, please email Laura at or call her at 724-612-2492 to learn more about this event.
Two Public Presentations on Green Burial.  If you are interested in learning more about green burial and Penn Forest Natural Burial Park, please join us for one of these events.  Pete and Laura will be presenting on green burial, how it’s used for reforestation and answering all of your questions.
The first talk is Thursday June 27th, 7-8 pm Penn Hills Library, 1037 Stotler Road Penn Hills PA 15235. The second is Thursday September 12, 7-8 pm at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve.  Come early if you want to hike the lands prior to our presentation. Their address is 614 Dorseyville Rd, Fox Chapel PA 15238.  Hope to see you there!
Death Café at Penn Forest.  Sunday, July 21st, 2:00 pm. Rain date July 28th.  Please join us at Penn Forest for July’s Death Café event.  The object of Death Café is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives'.  This conversation is done over a cup of tea and dessert, in a respectful manner with a focus on quality of life, that is intended to overcome the taboo that so often surrounds death in our society.  Death Café began in London in 2011 and the idea quickly spread, and there are now Death Café events all over the globe!  If you plan to attend, and if you are able, please bring a dessert to share.  If we have piqued your interest and you would like to start attending Death Café events sooner, or if you’re not in the Pittsburgh area, visit to find other events.
Recent Facebook Posts
March 16th: We suppose only cemetery geeks will find this fascinating. Let us know if you enjoy it. Real Estate for the Afterlife.
March 11th: The five kids (2 mama does) having their first experience out of their barn. Love the warmer weather! Video.
March 6th: Think about it. Cremation isn't much better because it adds to global warming and pollutes the air. Green burial is the way to go. Burying dead bodies takes a surprising toll on the environment.
March 6th: We buried a Jewish man yesterday. Then the family went to sit Shiva. Such a loving practice! Here’s a short video. Shiva: What you Need to Know.

March 1st: Australians seem to have a totally different idea of what a death doula should do than we have here. But I would like someone to help me with funeral planning, clearing up clutter, and maybe cleaning out my social media accounts. Baby boomers are hiring death doulas and aiming for the grave on their own terms.

February 28th: Bitter Ends Garden, located on the Penn Forest property, grows vegetables for the Bitter Ends Luncheonette in Bloomfield. Their chef, Becca Hegarty (shown in the photo in the link), has just been named a James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year semifinalist. Meet Pittsburgh’s 2019 James Beard Award Semifinalists.
February 27th: Have you ever had a conversation with someone by asking them how they want to be buried? OPINION: Let's talk about death, baby! (and eco burials).

February 16th: Five kids born on February 15th. Seems like spring is arriving early at Returning Home Farm! Photos.
February 5th: Ellie enjoying the run of the barn. Video.

February 1st: Go for it, Lloyd! Going green: Eau Claire man hopes to bring natural cemetery to area.

January 31st: Every year a group of Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science students visits Penn Forest, and we give them a tour. We've noticed a big change in these tours. In our early years the students were mostly male and the sons of existing funeral home owners; now they are mostly female and unconnected to existing funeral homes. And, yes, they are mostly Millennials. Millennials are taking over the mortuary business.
January 25th: Nice article about a funeral home in Raleigh NC that is promoting green burial. 'Afraid to talk about death:' Raleigh funeral director says green burials can bring solace to mourning families.

January 23rd: One day old and getting strong and curious. Video.
January 22nd: Surprise lamb in barn this morning. The sheep are so thick with wool we didn’t know Kiva was pregnant. Glad the temps are on their way up. Photos.
January 15th: This is an important article about the early days (c. 1993) of the green burial movement in the UK. The first green cemetery in the US was started in 1998, so there's a lot to be learned from Britain's early efforts. One of the most important things we learned was just how damaging to the environment cremation is. If you think otherwise, you may want to do a little research. The case for natural burial.
Planting Flowers on Graves.  It's nice when people plant flowers on graves, but it's not so nice when the deer eat them. Here’s a list Kathy Raborn gave us of native PA plants that are deer resistant. Read the disclaimer and proceed at your own risk. (Note: We reserve the right to trim or remove plants that grow beyond grave boundaries.)
Did You Know?
You signed up for this newsletter because you are interested in green burial at Penn Forest, so I'm sure you know that we don't allow embalming with toxic chemicals, we bury people in biodegradable coffins or shrouds and we don't use burial vaults. But did you know...  

You can have a viewing and visitation at a funeral home before a green burial. Or if you don't want to use a funeral home at all, we can arrange that too. By chilling the body, green burial can occur up to 10 days after death. You can be an organ donor and still have a green burial. You can be cremated and have your ashes interred at Penn Forest in a biodegradable container.

The choice is yours. Contact Penn Forest for more information, and other options to help you make the best choices for you and your family.

Green Burial Questions?

You've got questions...we've got answers!  Check out our Green Burial Frequently Asked Questions.  Do you have a question that was not answered in the FAQ's? Email us and we will be happy to answer it for you.

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