Dogwood supporter Leila von Stein comes from a family with a very unique tie to Southern forests. In 1892, her great-grandfather, Captain Seaton Grantland, created the first hand-planted Southern pine forest in the country near Griffin, Georgia. The forest, which spanned about 10 acres, included some 7,000 hill short-leaf pines and some loblollies, planted in rows and preserved for three generations until it was lost to development in the 1950’s.
“My great-grandfather planted that pine forest to make a screen between his house and the cemetery where his beloved wife was buried; she died of tuberculosis in her 30’s,” Leila reports. According to a 1925 article by W.R. Mattoon (publication unknown) she shared, the neighbors were originally skeptical of Grantland’s forest planting, but the stand of trees was carefully planned and lovingly tended for many years. Unlike today’s corporate slash pine plantations, this forest was planted with an intention of long-term growth rather than short-term harvest, and kept many of its natural protections, including a thick, moisture-conserving carpet of pine needles. Captain Grantland’s daughter shared this vision, stating in the article that she hoped to put the property “into public ownership as a town forest and memorial to her father.” Until the 1950’s, it was a favorite play area for the children of Griffin.
In addition to pioneering the planting of the pine forest, Grantland created the first hydroelectric plant in Georgia, built the world’s first electrically powered gristmill, and was “instrumental in advancing education for everyone,” says Leila.
Although Grantland’s legendary forest is now gone, Leila understands the importance of protecting Southern forests like these, which led her to Dogwood Alliance. “I like being a valued supporter,” she says. “Our forests are important for many reasons, from providing key habitats to offering peace and quiet from the rest of the world. Dogwood Alliance is very effective at making sure individuals and companies understand this and behave accordingly.”