Season 9 - South Carolina Tree Farmers - Land of Legacy Series | Episode 7

#163 | We don’t take away without rebuilding

March 4, 2021 | Skeet and Gail Burris

Up next on the Land of Legacy series, you’ll hear a true story about love, trust and the Burris family, as one diamond-in-the-rough property undergoes a complete transformation.

To see the lush landscape, ponds, and wildlife on Cypress Bay Plantation today, you could hardly imagine what it looked like when Skeet and Gail Burris first pulled up to their 90 acre farm. Even their banker that went to view the property with them thought they were kidding about buying the place! But like many of their fellow South Carolina Tree Farmers, Skeet and Gail saw possibility where others saw waste. They saw something special in that dilapidated landscape and broken-down old cabin: a chance. It was a chance to bring up their boys in a way that would bond them together as a family and bind them to the land for generations to come. Take a walk with Gail as she calls to her swans, shows you the waterfall that Skeet promised her upon moving to the farm, and hear how she takes her own kind of hunting trips – with her camera. Listen to Skeet describe how he started out not even knowing what trees to plant, but how he listened to the experts and soon grew to be their favorite customer. Over time, the Burris’ have learned to mix hard work with good family fun, from celebrating grandchildren’s birthday parties and weddings, to giving each other creative anniversary presents and their sons an opportunity to create their own projects on the property. This family has certainly learned how to truly enjoy their property in so many different ways. As the Burris’ journey led them to become both State and National Tree Farmers of the Year, now they’re the ones giving advice and assistance to others, encouraging those who also want to pursue landownership for their own families.

The Burris family story is bright, colorful, touching, and truly inspiring. Between their vision statement, involving every family member, following a professionally developed management plan, and their incredible adaptability, this family deserves every award and recognition they’ve received, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to share this wonderful couple and family with you in this episode.

Listen now, and share this series with others, who – like our SC Tree Farmers – love the land and put the family in family forestry!

Navigation Points

[2:00] How did Skeet get his start in Tree Farming?

[6:00] Gail shares her version of the story on how the family got involved in Tree Farming.

[7:25] Feeding four boys during the very early days was not easy, but Gail believed in Skeet and the power of the Tree Farm.

[10:50] Skeet shares how he came up with his big picture vision for the farm.

[16:25] Skeet was fortunate that he purchased abandoned and exhausted lands and, over time, built them into something special.

[17:40] How did Skeet get Tree Farm Certified?

[19:40] What does Tree Farming mean to Skeet?

[22:15] Skeet’s vision came true. What’s his vision going forward?

[24:35] Skeet and his family have made an active effort to support conservation examples on their farm, and it’s paid off!

[26:45] Gail realized in the early days that the boys had a negative association with the farm because it meant “hard work.” So she worked on creating long-lasting traditions and positive memories with the whole family and friends in the community.

[31:25] As Skeet worked on the trees and ponds, Gail built her own niche on the property, with her photography.

[34:15] How did the name Cypress Bay come about?

[35:40] Skeet talks a little bit about his love for South Carolina.

[43:00] What words of wisdom and tips do Skeet and Gail have for fellow Tree Farmers?

For More Information

South Carolina Tree Farm

Forestry Association of South Carolina

South Carolina Forestry Commission

The Center for Heirs Property Preservation

Clemson Cooperative Extension

The Burris Family

Emily Oakman, Director of Landowner Outreach, Forestry Education and Programs at Forestry Association of South Carolina and Producer of the Land of Legacy Series




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