Sarah Lasswell, Moss & Thistle Farm
WNC-Grown Willow for Sustainable Caskets
Grant Award: $8,000
After planting two rows of willow for erosion control as part of her 2019 AgOptions grant, Sarah began to research uses for willow rods and discovered woven willow caskets used in green burials. She began producing and selling willow caskets in 2021. With few commercial willow growers in the United States, Sarah needs to establish her own willow stand to grow rods to meet her profit goals.
Sarah plans to plant a ¼ acre stand of willow this year and expand to ½ acre next year. She will use her grant money to pay for willow cuttings and a flail mower attachment for the BCS walk-behind tractor she bought with her 2019 grant. She will also pay for materials and labor for site preparation, soil amendments, weed barriers, and irrigation. The established willow stand will be a place her customers can meet and walk to observe the materials she will use to weave the casket.
With her established cut flower business, Sarah will be able to offer flower arrangements for memorials and burials. Memorial arrangements will allow her to sell fewer but larger units thus reducing time on sales and delivery.