PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "I know not many businesses take up their parking lots," said Stephen Ebner. "You know, asphalt is king in the city, but I thought it would be really nice."
Ebner co-owns Manayunk Timber with his wife. He founded the business about 40 years ago. It carved out a niche as a sustainable sawmill, converting reclaimed wood from the surrounding area into furniture and flooring.
But for this project, the Ebners are converting their own parking lot into a miniature forest for native plants.
"I'm 70 years old, I would want to save here for the rest of my life in the forest," said Stephen. "I was turned on to a book about a mini forest. And that's what we proceeded to plant."
The Ebners say it will take five to 10 years for the plot of land to develop a towering tree canopy and a sprawling underbrush.
The space will soon be fit with an artistic entry gate intricately carved out of wood by sculptor Roger Wing.
The community is invited to enjoy the space on Saturdays alongside a bonfire and an on-site bakery. But ultimately, Ebner hopes the unique juxtaposition of a forest and a sawmill will tell a greater story.
"To me, instead of entertainment, it's education," he said. "You can sit here. You can observe the forest and then you can come into our wood shop, visit the sawmill, and you can see that it's a never-ending cycle."