by Cathy Key | Jan 28, 2019
Winter, the time of year when the trees go dormant and most of us tuck ourselves indoors to hibernate until Spring. But not the World Tree lumber team. Barry Comis and his crew have been out in the fields harvesting four plantations and meeting a very special VIP along the way.
Last week, World Tree had the honor of harvesting Empress trees belonging to one of the most respected Presidents in US history: Jimmy Carter.
President Carter planted the trees twenty years ago and had some real beauties on his grounds in Plains, Georgia. Here are some of the highlights of our winter harvest.
Do you want my trees?
Two years ago, we were contacted by a farmer in South Carolina. “My Dad’s got some of those Paulownia trees,” he said, “We just don’t know how to sell the wood. Are you interested?” Sure we were – Empress lumber is rare in North America and we were excited to find some good trees to harvest. Then we were being contacted by other farmers and pretty soon we had three plantations in South Carolina all ready to go when something magical happened in the neighboring state of Georgia.
“So there I am, sitting in a little Church in Plains Georgia, when who should walk right in and sit next to me but President Jimmy Carter,” says Angela Nauta, the Chief Investment Officer for World Tree. “We got to talking about Empress Trees, and then the next thing I know President Carter is asking if we want to harvest his trees.”
How could we say no?
Empress trees – or Paulownia – can only be cut down during the winter months and it takes a lot of planning to be ready for harvest. The trees have to be felled, bucked and stacked which is potentially dangerous work. You need people who know what they are doing, and we were pleased to find a local team who could manage the process for us. After harvest, the trees are then taken to be sawn and kiln dried and finally transported to the warehouse for storage.
Wendy Burton, World Tree’s founder and CEO joined the team onsite. “We’ve been planning this for over six months and it is so exciting to see all our plans come
together. We are very grateful to President Carter for trusting us with his trees and for giving us his blessing to do something special with his lumber,” she said.
A Beautiful Hardwood Lumber
“It’s a beautiful wood. I loved working with it,” said President Carter.
He should know, he personally has used his own Empress lumber to make cabinets which were auctioned for hundreds of thousands of dollars to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity. Empress lumber is very lightweight – half the weight of pine but just as strong. In fact, it has the highest strength/weight ratio of any wood. It’s a pretty, blonde hardwood used for a variety of purposes, including furniture, blinds, crown moldings and sailboats. World Tree has something very special in mind for the Presidential lumber: musical instruments.
“It’s very strong and it will make beautiful guitars,” said President Carter. World Tree will be making an exclusive line of guitars from the Carter lumber, some of which will be auctioned later this year.
Leaving a Legacy
Plans are now underway to showcase the Presidential guitars at a special concert to be held in Altanta later this year. We’ll be sharing more about that in the near future. Meanwhile, please contact us if you would like to get involved.
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