Green Acres Is the Place to Be for This Family
John Green’s consuming passion is ensuring that what remains of the Benndale, Mississippi, Tree Farm his father purchased in 1940 stays in his family. “My daddy bought this land in 1940, and put it in the Tree Farm System in 1962. Originally, there were 2,000 acres, divided into four equal parcels among my two sisters, my brother and me. Now it’s half that,” says Green. “I was very distressed that the big place got broken up when one of my sisters and my brother sold their pieces, and I decided to do whatever I could to keep my piece intact for at least one generation and hopefully several.”
Green’s distress has had a silver lining: the establishment of the Green Family Limited Partnership and a succession plan ensuring that what remains of the family’s Tree Farm—Green Acres—will be sustainably managed and kept intact for his four daughters, their children and, Green hopes, generations to come. “We want to keep it for hunting and fishing and recreation and to get the ecology back to the way it was when I was little. I was six years old when daddy bought it, and it was all great big hardwood then," he remembers.
“I learned that Tree Farm had a class about passing land to the next generation,”says Green, a 78-year-old retired opthalmologist. “My wife, Gloria, daughter Shelley and I took that course and that’s when we got really sold on the idea of a limited partnership. I had my attorney draw up the papers, and we formed the partnership in 2002.”
“We wouldn’t know anything about a limited family partnership if the fear of losing our land hadn’t been such a big concern to my dad,” says daughter Claire Cornett of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. “Most people don’t really understand what they have and how important a plan is. My dad brings us together a couple of times a year to talk about what has been accomplished in the past year, what we want to accomplish the next year and what ongoing projects we need to keep track of. We all understand what can happen when you don’t manage your land. Having a plan is very important to keep our land in the family.”Daughter Rebecca Griffith, who lives in nearby Prentiss, Mississippi, and serves as secretary of the partnership, says her father taught all his daughters to love the family’s land, as he is now teaching his 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. “Growing up, we spent a lot of time enjoying the land and being taught a respect for it,” she says.“ We hunted and fished, and learned to appreciate the value of the wildlife. The land brings our family together. It provides a place for us to continue to build relationships. We work together to accomplish something that’s good for all of us.”
In line to take her father’s place as managing partner of the Green family partnership is daughter Shelley Whittington, a venture capitalist who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “ All of us love the land, but we also have full-time jobs and families,” she says. “By documenting what’s going on with the land, and passing along this information to his children and grandchildren, my dad is doing something that will allow us to carry on when he is no longer able to manage the property. Daddy had the vision of this being a place that would carry on for generations, and came up with a mechanism to keep it intact. His vision and the plan make us love the land even more.”