If you’ve been following us on our blog or on Facebook for a while, you know it’s been quite the journey to this point. From coming up with the idea for Better Place Forests, moving to California, finding our first forest, building the team, and developing designs…it’s been an eventful journey to say the least!
But without a doubt, we had the absolute highlight of our journey thus far this past July, when we met over 70 of our earliest customers at the forest to help them select their trees.
Sandy Gibson looking down one of our pathways in the Mendocino Forest. Excited to meet our first customers!
Getting Ready For The Visits
When we first toured the forest with the design team, the forest wasn’t yet ready for visitors. While it has old logging roads and skid trails, the underbrush was still extremely thick and it was hard to walk up to trees and to envision what the forest would eventually look like when the landscaping was complete.
The sunlight breaking through the clouds on the driveway into the forest. Such a peaceful place!
That being said, it was still a stunning property with a ton of potential, and we knew what was necessary to get the forest ready for customer visits.
Specifically, we knew we needed to:
- Masticate (clear) the dense brush along the logging roads and skid trails
- Identify, categorize and flag each tree around the meadow and along the existing trails
- Survey all flagged trees for species, height, diameter, health, and location
- Create a database to classify and manage the data for each tree
We knew this was not a small amount of work and it took over five months to get to the point where we were ready for our first customer visits.
So with all that complete, Sandy booked his trip to Point Arena in mid-July to meet six customers a day (as well as their families and pets) for 12 straight days.
The First Visits
Prior to the first customers visiting the site we spent quite a bit of time planning the experience. We created emails and webpages with details of the visits, had signs made so the site would be easy to find, and discussed at length what we could do to make it easy for people to choose their tree.
We decided that each visit should be an hour long and that we would encourage everyone to bring their family and pets along. We figured that an hour was long enough for someone to get a tour of the forest, walk around the available areas and to see a selection of recommended trees.
While we were confident the visits would be a big success, it was still going to be our first time running the tours, so there were plenty of nerves involved.
An example of the ribbon system we came up with. We have ribbons to denote the location as well as a ribbon to denote the type of tree.
While all of the hard work and preparation made us ready to meet our first customers, the beauty of the forest spoke for itself.
A great look down one of the primary pathways showing the inventoried trees ready to be selected by customers!
With Sandy as a guide to describe the vision for the final designs and help everyone pick their tree, the visits were emotional and enjoyable and just about everyone left with a tree being chosen.
The only exceptions were those customers that had selected wilderness trees, as they are in parts of the forest that are not directly accessible with the current trail network, but we’ll be able to solve that as soon as we start adding photos and descriptions of each tree on our website in the next few months.
With our first group of visits now behind us, we’re already excited to meet the next group of customers in mid-August, and after that we’ll have regular times each month for future visits, so please stay tuned!
If you haven’t yet learned about your memorial options with Better Place Forests we strongly encourage you to do so here.
A stunning Douglas Fir in the Mendocino property. Every tree had to be categorized and inventoried.