Three Baby Goats Joined Our Returning Home Farm Family

On April 6, 2018 our goat, Tulip, gave birth to three little goats. Everyone is doing well. The babies will not be receiving visitors just yet, but we enourage you to sign up for ‘Yoga With Goats’ starting May 5 where we’ll have an update and let you know when you can meet the babies. 

Because our team is busy preparing for spring and summer activities AND caring for Tulip & her kids, we don’t have a play by play for you on the birth, but please consider reading this link on goat pregnancy and birth if you are curious. 

We will post more photos soon. Please feel free to leave a comment with a message for Tulip and her kids. 

You can see the album on our Facebook page (it is open to the public.) Click on the photo below. 

To stay informed on all things Penn Forest (and Returning Home Farm) related, you can find Penn Forest:


Twitter: @PennForest and @JinglesPF

Instagram: @PennForestCemetery 

Quarterly Newsletter: Subscribe

The People of Penn Forest: Meet Laura Faessel


Laura Faessel Penn Forest


Your Name:  Laura Faessel
Your Pronouns:  She
Your Role with Penn Forest Cemetery:  Assistant Manager

Describe a typical day for you at Penn Forest. 

I don’t think that any days are typical here, which I love!  It is really great to have a variety of indoor and outdoor work that changes everyday.    

How did you get connected with Penn Forest Cemetery?

I went back to school in 2012 for Environmental Studies at Slippery Rock University.  During my last semester, I did a research project comparing different burial methods.  One of those methods was green burial, which I found to be very interesting.  I learned of Penn Forest while doing this project.  After I graduated I was actually looking for a job in food sustainability (I also have a Culinary Arts degree and love food) and wasn’t having much luck.  One day, about a year after I graduated, Penn Forest just popped into my head and I sent Pete my resumĂ©.  He called me up and had me come visit and he’s been stuck with me ever since 🙂  

What are some of your responsibilities and duties?

I am learning how to do everything here.  So, it can be anything from pruning fruit trees, gardening, weeding, removing excess dirt off graves, installing grave markers, preparing for and having burials, giving tours, sales, office work, etc.

Describe one thing about Penn Forest that the average person might not know or find surprising.

One thing that I love about Penn Forest that the average person may not know are the different projects going on here.  There’s a couple of different types of gardens, the farm animals, composting from the barn waste, aquaponics, beehives, willow and berry patches, yoga with goats, and hiking trails!

Why is green burial important to you?

Green burial is important to me because I believe that we have a responsibility to use the earth in a manner that allows it to sustain future generations in a wholesome way.  That means that we should not be filling it with anything harmful.  With green burial there are no toxic embalming fluids, no concrete burial vaults, no metals going into the ground, no harmful pesticides in the grassy areas.  Green burial allows bodies to return to the earth naturally contributing to healthy soil and waterways.

Tell us about your connection to Pittsburgh. Are you a native of this
region? A transplant?

I was born in Pittsburgh and have lived in this area ever since.  I have had the privilege of experiencing both the city and country life.  In the city I’ve lived in Brookline, South Side, the Hill District, Etna, and Sharpsburg.  In the country I’ve lived in Southern Butler County and in the Deer Lakes area.  I love both and feel fortunate to have been able to experience what it is like to live in the different settings.  

Do you have a favorite tree at Penn Forest, either a specific type of
tree or an actual tree that resonates with you?

My favorite tree at Penn Forest is the Tulip Poplar.  The leaves look like tulips!  I had never seen them before and I am completely enamored with them! 

How can people connect with you?

 laura (at)

Thank you, Laura

This is one in an occasional series profiling the people involved with Penn Forest Cemetery and our multiple projects. 

You can find Penn Forest:


Twitter: @PennForest and @JinglesPF

Instagram: @PennForestCemetery 

Quarterly Newsletter: Subscribe


Thank You For Your Review: Jim’s Perspective on Green Burial

We received this email from Jim Greenberg in March. He gave us permission to post it here. Linda was buried March 15th.

Hi, Pete,

My family and I would like to thank you and your staff for helping to make our final moments with Linda beautiful and as stress-free as possible. I have posted the following review of Penn Forest on the Yelp website:

This is not a classic cemetery in that it lacks vertical headstones and mausoleums. Natural (“green”) burial is the rule. Bodies are not embalmed or preserved and are usually buried shortly after death in a shroud or natural casket. The concept of green burial is based on the biblical concept, “You were made of the earth and to the earth shall you return.” That is, once the soul and spirit of the individual have left the physical body, the components of the body should return into the earth as quickly as possible in order to maintain the flow of nature. The property is quite large and beautiful with woods, meadows, and a variety of other settings to choose from for your loved one. We walked around with the proprietor until we found a spot we liked at the edge of the woods with views of the meadow. There are a limited number of cemeteries that are in sync with the green burial movement, and we are fortunate to have Penn Forest in Pittsburgh.

I will be in touch soon (as this crappy weather disappears); there is Death Café in April. Many of the guests were impressed positively with this kind of interment and graveside ceremony.

Warmest regards,


p.s. – If any potential clients want to talk to someone who’s been there, feel free to pass along my contact information.

We appreciate all of your kind words and reviews. If you’d like to leave a review for Penn Forest, you can find us here:



Our website

Departure Directions: Taking Charge of Your Final Arrangements

Have you written your Departure Directions and given them to your family? If you have and they include Penn Forest, we’d love to have a copy to put in your file. That way we’ll know your wishes at your time of death and we’ll be ready to help pass them on to your funeral arrangers. Note: you do not need to have a pre-paid account to have a file. You can set up a file with us at any time. 

Departure Directions is the term for your written instructions or guidelines—determined by your values, beliefs and priorities—for how you wish to be cared for and remembered after you die (your after-death care). It includes how your body will be cared for and by whom, how you will be laid to rest, who you would like to involve, and what rituals, if any, will be carried out.

Departure Directions can also address things like what name you and  pronouns should be used in your preferred rituals, as well how your body should be dressed or garbed. You can also designate who will have the final decision for your arrangements. 

Begin your own exploration by contemplating one or more of these questions:

  1. Reflect on a death ritual you attended and consider what was great about it and how it impacted you.
  2. Reflect on three-to-five core values that guide the way you live and think about how they can guide the way you are cared for after you die.
  3. How would you explain your beliefs about what happens to you when you die?

Pennsylvania â€” Yes, designated agent law (click here to download the form). Pennsylvania Statute, Title 20, Chapter 3, Subsection 305, gives citizens the right to make a “statement of contrary intent” that will override the next-of-kin’s usual authority and let the citizen designate whom he wants to control the disposition of his body. Click here to search the Pennsylvania statutes.

Please contact us to discuss further. 

We are a Community Partner With the East End Food Co-op

We are pleased to announce that we have joined the community partner program with the East End Food Co-op. This means we will offer discounts  to  Co-op members: $100 off full body cemetery lots, $50 off cremated remains lots, 10% off other products and services.

You can learn more about this program here.  

This is an exciting joint adventure. Just bring your membership card with you when you sign up for any services with us. This is one way for sustainable groups and business to support one another. 

‘Treemation’ Offers The Chance To Be A Tree

“I wanna be a tree.” Treemation, cremation, trees

Ever since Penn Forest opened in 2011, people have asked us if we could plant a tree on a family member’s grave. Because trees are bigger than the 4’x8’ footprint of our full body graves, we can’t plant trees precisely on specific graves. Instead, every year in October we offer a memorial tree-planting event where people can plant trees near their loved-one’s grave. 

But in addition to traditional green burial, we offer options to disperse cremated remains as well. 

So how about planting a tree on a cremated remains grave? Up until now the problem with that has been that we need to precisely locate the grave’s latitude and longitude so we can enter it into our cemetery records. That would have meant hiring a surveyor to come out and locate each grave/tree, which is obviously cost-prohibitive.

But now a new kind of GPS system is available, which provides surveyor accurate locations (within a cm). We are in the process of obtaining that system.

So, would you be interested planting a small tree or shrub on top of a loved-one’s cremated remains and watching the tree grow? We are now offering that service at Penn Forest, and we call it, Treemation. In this way, you can honor a loved one and help Penn Forest with our forestry work. These trees can last for years, and each time you visit Penn Forest you can see how your tree is growing. You can even include an engraved stone marker next to the tree. 

For more information, contact Laura Faessel (