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 resumé.  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 

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