Expansion of Penn Forest Natural Burial Jewish Grove

We have important updates about  the Jewish Burial Grove at Penn Forest Natural Burial Park. Please share this information with individuals who may be interested. 

  • Sanctified for Jewish Burial by Rabbi Stephen E. Steindel.
  • Woodland natural burial among our trees.
  • Located in Verona PA—13-miles from downtown Pittsburgh.
  • No burial vaults used.
  • Only biodegradable coffins or shrouds allowed.
  • Currently adding 112 additional grave sites.
  • Time payment plans available.
  • No extra fees for Sunday burials.
  • Tents and chairs provided for graveside services at no extra cost.
  • We work with all funeral homes.
  • We honor all Jewish burial practices.

Call 412-265-4606 for tour appointments or other information or email Laura at PennForestCemetery.com.

All prices on our website: www.PennForestCemetery.com/pricing.

The People of Penn Forest: Meet Nancy Chubb

Your Name: Nancy Chubb
Your Pronouns: She
Your Role with Penn Forest Cemetery: Officially I am President of Land Conservation Cemeteries, an LLC that owns Penn Forest Natural Burial Park and, along with Pete McQuillin, a majority owner of the business. Unofficially that means I weigh in on all major decisions and many of the everyday ones.

Describe a typical day for you at Penn Forest. 

My time is spent in planning meetings, cemetery and barn chores, administrative tasks. I’ve been involved with almost every aspect of Penn Forest, including finding the land, creating the business plan, building the farm, and now plans for the Remembrance Garden. In inclement weather I have opened our home to gathering mourners. 

How did you get connected with Penn Forest Cemetery?

It was in a conversation with Pete about our own wishes for a green burial that the idea of creating a green cemetery here in Pittsburgh was first conceived in 2008. We both wanted to be buried in an environmentally-friendly way and there was no option for that locally. So we decided to build one here, having no idea what we were getting into. Fortunately we have had wonderful help every step of the way and made lifelong friendships.

What are some of your responsibilities and duties?

I feel a responsibility for all the things that happen here, even if I’m not directly involved. My main duty is to keep an eye on everything. We moved out to the cemetery a few years ago so that we could do that 24/7. Caring for the cemetery is woven completely into our lives.

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

Penn Forest is more about life than death. For life to flourish, death must happen. You know, “the cycle of life”. We offer people a chance to personally participate in it through their death but while they are alive, they can enjoy the farm animals, wildlife, and nature. Lot owners are welcome to hang out in the barn, have a picnic in the meadow, get a discount on Yoga with Goats classes. We have lots of ideas about how to continue developing Penn Forest so it is an inviting and educational conservation park.

 Why is green burial important to you?

Green burial is the most efficient way to return my body to nature so that it can support future life. I find it comforting that after my death my organic matter remains organic, just in different forms.

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

I grew up in the DC suburbs but my father grew up on Beaver Grade Road in Robinson. I spent my summers on my grandparents’ 300 acre dairy farm, called Hidden Brook Farm. Those were formative years for me and I found joy being in the woods and with the animals. When I was looking for a college, Chatham College was just far enough from home and a horticultural treasure. Pittsburgh, the city, grew on me over the years and I became a big fan. As an adult I found out my grandfather, Charles Chubb, was an early President of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. I think he would approve of the work we are doing to restore the eco-system at Penn Forest.

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

This land was a farm until the 1950s and so it was cleared for fields. There are a few big old trees scattered around. They’re my favorites. I wish I could be around in 100 years to see how the trees we are planting now mature. With our focus on increasing the diversity of the trees, it will be even more beautiful.

How can people connect with you?

Thank you, Nancy. 

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

You can find Penn Forest:

Facebook: facebook.com/pennforest

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

The (R)Evolution of Penn Forest: More than just Green Burials

Penn-Forest-Fall-LeavesAs some of you may already know, Penn Forest is an enchanting green space. A hike around the property yields stunning views of lush canopy cover and ravines that unfold at  Plum Creek, which surges around the forest.  If you’re patient and quiet, you’ll likely see many species of birds, as well as deer, turkeys, ground hogs and foxes.

We manage thirty-two acres of this serene forest . As of right now, only 2.5 acres are allotted to burials. This leaves a whopping 29.5 acres free for other ventures! We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, literally, and we want your ideas!

Here are a few of our ideas for those 29.5 acres…

  • Wildlife refuge
  • Hiking trails, open to the public
  • Apiary (Beekeeping)
  • Community gardens
  • Picnic areas
  • Development of outdoor amphitheater for memorial services and cultural events (plays, poetry readings, music festivals, etc.)
  • Interpretive nature trails
  • Sculpture in the forest, or other art projects

We see this as a community initiative and your input is integral to making the most of what Penn Forest has to offer! Feel free to comment directly on this blog post for how to best utilize this space.  Or if you prefer, email Penn-Forest-Burial-Areapete@pennforestcemetery.com with your comments and ideas.

A space like Penn Forest has the potential to be more than just a green cemetery. We believe the resting place for your loved ones needn’t only be a reminder of the dead, but a celebration of the living as well.

Penn Forest Presents at Mother Earth News Fair

On September 21, Pete McQuillin gave an inspiring presentation about Green Burial at the Mother Earth News Fair.  Mother Earth News Fair is held annually in Seven Springs, PA and among the topics were forest restoration, the potential to use the land for more than just burials, and much more!  You can click here to view the slideshow of the presentation.
Mother Earth News Fair 2012 Penn Forest


Looking for education or more information about green burial for your group or organization?  The folks at Penn Forest are available to give education presentations about green burial and forest restoration.  Contact us for next steps.

Redefining a better and greener way of death

By: Elizabeth Fournier, funeral director

Spending my last several years working as a small-town funeral director has given me the unique pleasure and privilege to serve families during their greatest time of need. I am always honored to be chosen to facilitate the journey of their loved one’s passing. It is my role as a small-town minister that allows me to convey to the family that the death of our bodies is a sacred and spiritual passage.

Blessed Mother

As I see it, death is a spiritual transition, especially at the time of death of the physical body. The practical realization of passing away is guided by an advanced spiritual revelation. In the green burial movement, this advanced spiritual revelation is focused on the earth’s well being, and the movement attempts to realize this.

The green burial movement is crucial to restore this freedom and choice, both during the actual death and in the arrangements made after death, and to enable a more ”natural” death, surrounded by one’s loved ones in one’s own surroundings. Important to note, the concept of natural death reaches to include active family involvement and home funerals, as well.

Eschewing chemical embalming and bulletproof metal caskets, elaborate and costly funerals, more and more are embracing a range of natural burial options, new and old, that are redefining a better – and greener – way of death.

It’s been proven that participation by the mourners eases the grieving process. Being involved really does help the constant flow of energy, and the effect is quite evident. The idea is to bring everyone into the actual process. From a personal experience I had recently, it truly helped the distraught family to participate in making all the decisions, and I think in a practical way it helped to be occupied.

The matriarch of the family had finally passed after many months on hospice care. The days following were amazingly powerful and quite personal for all involved. Her family clothed and laid her out on a bed in her living room. All her friends brought food and flowers. They were able to look at her face and touch her hands and say goodbye. After the celebration of her life, she was brought to a burial space in a wooded area and her children slowly lowered her shrouded body. The day was glorious.

Elizabeth Fournier is affectionately known as The Green Reaper in her tiny community of Boring, Oregon. She is the owner and operator of Cornerstone Funeral Services and works as a green mortician, educator and advocate who is always ready to lend a hand, or a shovel. She is the voice of the autopsy exhibit in the forensic wing at the United States National Museum of Medicine, teaches ballroom dancing at Reed College, and recently published her memoir, All Men Are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates. She writes a monthly column for The Black Lamb and Naturally Savvy, and her green pieces have been seen in American Funeral Director, Community Seeds, and Living Green Magazine.