Virginia Urban Wood Group
News & Updates
April 20, 2022 | Issue-12
Spring has Sprung!

Welcome to the twelfth edition of the Virginia Urban Wood Group's newsletter!

The arrival of spring always brings with it the renewal of nature, work and even life! The doldrums of the winter season have passed and people are ready to emerge from their houses and resume outdoor activities! This of course translates into spending money on these outside pursuits including those folks who are interested in gardening. Be it a patio garden or a traditional quarter-acre row garden, people are going to need supplies and services including urban/local wood products!

Successful businesses have planned ahead and are poised to serve these outdoor enthusiasts with the anticipated rush for services and products. We all know that life in the springtime can occur at a very hectic pace and businesses do not want to miss this tsunami of outside activities! Let's face it, there is money to be made in the spring, but it is a fleeting opportunity - once summertime arrives, people focus more on watching the garden grow, harvesting crops, going to the pool and family vacations, there is definitely a shift in their spending habits.

We wish all of you a wonderfully prosperous and successful spring season, enjoy the rest of the newsletter!

Joe Lehnen
VA Dept of Forestry
Urban Wood Program Coordinator
Urban Wood Outdoors
Using Urban Wood in the Garden!

Spring is time for outside sun and fun as millions of Virginians cannot wait to be outdoors tilling soil, planting flowers, veggies, and improving their gardenscape. Over the years wood has been an integral component of gardening, providing basic infrastructure for cold frames, greenhouses, raised beds and planters. Wood has also transcended functionality by being used as garden art. As we all know the historical consumer model was to purchase treated wood and imported products for all things associated with gardening. Yet in recent years many gardeners have turned towards using more natural, locally produced wooden products. Without question there is a huge opportunity for springtime wood sales to the gardening community. This month we highlight three of our Virginia urban/local wood businesses who cover all aspects of wood in the garden!
True Craft garden sheds are
a growing business!

Whole Heart Timber specializes
in red cedar planters & many other cedar lumber products!
Sean creates many different garden carvings from
mountain men to
Great Blue Herons!
Jared & Jesse Shaw
True Craft Sheds
Fishersville, VA
Brothers Jared and Jesse Shaw started True Craft Sheds in late 2017, and they cannot believe it was almost 6 years ago! 
The brothers Shaw journey into the local wood business is steeped in family tradition. “Our dad was a carpenter who built everything from houses to cabinets so we were around woodworking a lot growing up. We were also heavily influenced by the time we spent living in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Mom and dad had a small firewood business and a sawmill when we lived there and I would have to say that is where we developed our love for woodworking. We used to drag lumber into the woods and build treehouses and forts everywhere. When lumber prices started skyrocketing we decided to invest in a sawmill - now we can do everything for our business from start to finish!” 
“We also found that garden sheds were a very popular item especially during the COVID pandemic. We currently have two lots displaying our garden sheds, one in Fishersville, VA, and the other on Route 151 in Nellysford. Over the last few years we have done A LOT of special orders, so our lots haven’t stayed very stocked. We also rely on social media and have gained a lot of customers through Instagram. We also noticed during COVID that the need for home office space increased so we had quite a few people who order sheds that they could finish off themselves for a home office. 
Besides their garden sheds, the Brothers Shaw sell greenhouses, chicken coops, pavilions, and rough-cut lumber from our sawmill. 
For more information about the Shaw Brothers' business or to contact them with questions, please visit their Facebook page:


Craig Burris
Whole Heart Timber, LLC
Culpeper, VA

Michelle and Craig operate two related businesses: Whole Heart Farm LLC & Whole Heart Timber LCC. Whole Heart Farm is our retail facing business, selling farm & forest products since 2012. Whole Heart Timber has been selling wholesale Eastern Red Cedar & providing custom milling services since 2017.
The Burris family found their way into the local wood business when we purchased our current property. The front area had a lot of storm-damaged cedar and an individual stopped by to discuss acquiring some of the logs we had cut. He had a portable saw mill, and we agreed to split the lumber that came from our logs in exchange for milling services. Having produced more lumber than we could use, and realizing that there was unmet local demand for Eastern Red Cedar, we began selling lumber online. We soon purchased our own equipment, and began expanding our source of logs beyond our own property.
We began selling cedar planters, raised garden beds, and other cedar products at the Culpeper Farmers Market. Over time, we transitioned to selling these products exclusively out of our barn. Delivery is available for most products as well. We provide a list of commonly stocked items/prices by email and retail hours are Saturdays (Feb-May) from 9-3, and by appointment by texting 540-718-6419.

Other products they sell include: a full range of Eastern Red Cedar products from logs to farm tables. Our top selling items are raised garden beds. These are offered in the form of easily assembled kits in a variety of sizes and thicknesses of lumber. 
The ability to purchase most things online was at least initially helpful during the COVID-19 lockdowns. A consumer trend worth noting is that more people than ever are drawn to quality, locally-produced products that they can touch, feel, and in the case of cedar, smell, before they buy. They enjoy the adventure of getting out for the day with their kids and dogs, experiencing our small operation, and leaving with not just a product, but with new memories and connections to the community.

Check out the Whole Heart Timber website to learn more about Craig & Michelle's business >>


Sean Hanifee
Mountainside Woodworks &
Chainsaw Carvings
Bridgewater, VA

With his shop being located in Spring Creek just outside of Bridgewater, VA, Sean has been in business since 2017, part-time at first as he continued with his teaching career. 2019 was his 20th year as a teacher and his last, as he started full time focusing on his carving business.
“Honestly, I began messing with wood just to pass time and to make myself feel better, a way to relax. Eventually, my passion started to impact others in the same way. My carvings are almost all commissioned pieces that now bring smiles and happiness for others. It’s a win win!”
“It seems as if I almost never have inventory. All of my pieces are custom carved for those that reach out to me. I don’t have pieces to peddle at shows or fairs, but rather post on Facebook, my website, Etsy and Google. All of my orders are generated from those four places and word of mouth. It’s amazing, the response my work has generated. I am beyond grateful and certainly living my best life.”
Sean’s main products are his carvings of all sizes, some from logs and others being logs still rooted in peoples yards. He also does many figures and a variety of signs, plaques and wall hangings. Many people are requesting ornamentation in their yards and gardens. Chainsaw carving have moved way beyond just being bears and eagles. 
Check out more of Sean's creative creations at his website >>


Many thanks to Trees Virginia (Virginia's Urban Forest Council) for hosting this newsletter and allowing access to their Constant Contact platform!

The Virginia Urban Wood Program is supported by the Virginia Department of Forestry and a grant from the U.S. Forest Service, Southern Region.

The Marketing Corner

Checking-in or Checked-out?

Okay, so be honest - when was the last time you checked your business email, be it through the website or a business email account? If it has been longer than 48 hours you have probably lost several of the potential customers who have tried to contact you. Thus the topic of this month's Marketing Corner, are you checking those incoming emails, or are you just checked-out?

Let's deal with the last issue first. We all know that business and life in general can become overwhelming at times. The issues associated with the recent COVID crisis only added another layer of stress to our daily lives. You may be at wits-end and the last thing you need is yet another order for a service or product. All of this is totally understandable, but we encourage you not to just think of the present, rather look around the corner towards the day that you will once again welcome with open arms all the customers that might come your way. One way to deal with this situation is to set-up an automatic email reply message like "Sorry, we are not taking orders at this time, but we have your email address and will contact you when we can chat about your inquiry."

Maybe you are not totally checked-out, but you are also not as diligent with checking for email, Facebook or Instagram messages as you know you should be. Again, this is like using a fishing net that has elephant-size holes in it! You have the customer "in your net" but by not checking for their messages you are losing them through these imaginary holes. Remember.....they contacted you, they came to you, you must be offering a service or making a product that they are interested in - don't let these income opportunities escape you!