Basil Camu’s journey to purposeful and impactful work with Leaf & Limb

Inside Impact host Alisa Herr sits with CEO, Founder, and Wizard of Things Basil Camu as they discuss his work, “Project Pando,” and how his business uses education around trees to create a better and healthier world.

Basil discusses the early beginnings of Leaf and Limb and their journey to today, the inspirations he received when he was younger, and their journey to becoming a B Corp. Basil also discusses a critical pivot point in his professional journey and explains what’s meaningful for him:

Business or impact?

Basil Camu is the CEO, Co-founder, and Wizard of Things at Leaf & Limb, which has been a B Corp since 2019.

Inside Impact is hosted by Unity Web Agency CEO Alisa Herr and is produced by Earfluence.


This transcript has been edited for clarity and readability.


Alisa Herr: Welcome to Inside Impact, where we give you a behind-the-scenes peek at how organizations can create positive change in their communities. I’m Alisa Herr, founder of Unity Web Agency, and on the show today, Leaf and Limb Wizard of Things Basil Camu comes on to talk about how his tree service company – which you think would be harming the environment – is actually providing a positive impact on the World.

When I think of a tree service, the first thing that comes to my mind is when I have a tree that might be preventing my grass from growing, or I’m worried a tree is going to fall on my house, I call up a tree service. And for Leaf and Limb, that’s what the company used to be.

Basil Camu: It represented at one point 80% of our revenue I think for most companies it’s at least 60%. So it’s a very big part of the industry. At Leaf and Limb we do things a little differently. We really just focused on caring for trees, planting trees, and educating folks about the importance of trees.

Alisa Herr: Leaf and Limb’s mission is now to preserve, plant, and promote trees in a manner that maximizes positive benefits for members of all ecosystems. This journey to do the right thing all started when Basil and his dad decided to truly take care of their team.


Basil Camu: One of the issues was we didn’t want to pay folks under the table, and most of our industry pays either cash under the table or they do 10-99 contractors. And the reason they do this is because our worker’s comp is insane.

For every dollar I pay a staff member, the worker’s comp rate starts off at 40 cents per dollar. It’s a massive, massive number. You can easily get into 50 to a hundred thousand in workers, comp costs, and this is a very small company right? And that’s exactly what we’re up against, but I really didn’t want to be a part of a company that paid folks under the table.

So early on we made this decision we’re going to do it the right way. We’re part of only 10% of the industry that does this, but to do it the right way it means that

every single bid you walk into you are going to be more expensive because

you’ve got to pick up these huge workers’ comp costs, and then of course there’s

the taxes that go with that because they’re on the payroll. So that’s another 7%.

So we had to get really creative about how to overcome these price gaps. How

do we walk into bids and consistently be at the time, not the most expensive, but

just under the national brands? So with that came a lot of learning, and I love

learning and reading, so that was fun, and I started learning about trees.

And as we learned about trees we were able to offer more sophisticated care

services, and that went on for a number of years. Just getting more

knowledge about trees better services that sort of thing, but there also was this

point at which I personally was really kind of questioning what I was doing.

I enjoyed working with my dad and being in the tree service industry and I

enjoyed, I enjoyed that. But it wasn’t…you know in my late twenties, early thirties,

I was just questioning if that was really what I was like that was it with my life.

You know I’m going to work at a tree service and we’re going to build a big

company and we’re going to make money, which you know we did. We grew up

to 45 staff by around 2000 and I don’t know, I can’t remember, my years It was

like 2015, 2016 something like that. 

So we were building a big company but as we’re doing this and it just wasn’t jiving with what I really wanted in life. And that was sort of a turning point for me. You know I realized what I really enjoyed was the care aspects of trees and I love ecology. I love soil and through these things. 

I’ve also become an environmentalist. 

So I really care a lot about environmental issues particularly as it pertained to ecology, and that really I think, all of that became the impetus for why we gradually, well gradual at first.

While we really wanted to become more than just a traditional tree service, we wanted to care for trees.

Alisa: Yeah. Did you pitch this idea to your family? Like how did that go?

Basil: Yeah my dad and I are 50/50 partners. 

We do have to agree on these things, and you know to his credit he has given me a lot of leeway to do these things. I’ve also built that trust, you know I’ve been a big part of building this company. 

So I think I’ve proven myself, but it also you know, when your business partner comes to you, fast-forwarding the story a little bit, but like you know says things like hey we should stop doing tree removals and gut 40% of our annual revenue, that’s like not easy conversations, but in the end you know he agreed and we’ve made the decisions we made. 

And I can kind of fast forward one other piece of this story And I’m sorry if this is long-winded.

Alisa: That’s ok.

Basil: The real crux of the transformation happened in 2017. We rebranded,

and we sort of had this weird situation where we were really putting ourselves

forth as more of a tree care company tree planting, but we’re still offering the

removal services. And I had told my sales team you know: 

“Hey, I’d like sales to steer us out of that revenue stream over the next three to five years.” 

And I had set targets for where I wanted us to be. So we were at 60% of our revenue, I guess it’s about 2015. 

By 2017 It was about 40% removals or 40% of our revenue, and I said: 

“Hey, from 2017 to 2021 I’d like to get us down to 10% or less.”

When 2019 rolled around, we really hadn’t moved the scale at all, and it was then that I realized we had some systemic issues that sort of prevented us from making this change through the sales team, and I kind of had to then consider the really hard route which is:

“Okay, I’m going to take this service off the table, we can’t even sell it.” 

And we’re going to do this the hard way but I needed consensus. So we had a lot of internal meetings, so this is not the kind of thing you can say to your staff and it’s going to happen, it’s too radical. 

So we had a lot of internal meetings and discussions because we had all been on this journey for a number of years together.

So we had these discussions and by September of 2019 we said: 

“Hey, we’ve got until January to clear our queue of all removal work because on January 1st we’re announcing that we’re getting out of removal completely, just to focus on the care and the planting and education that we care about.” 

And we went public with that statement so we couldn’t retract it. That was January of 2020, and we’ve got a new story with ABC 11 that did really well. Thanks to Ed Crump, an awesome guy who cares a lot about things that matter. 

And then COVID hit but that was not to be known for another several months.

Alisa: Yeah I noticed on your website that the closest thing to tree removal is consultations. So that seems like a really valuable service to provide to people who might not know other options there. They might have what they think is a problem tree.

Basil: We try to convince them to keep it, or if it really is a problem we’re going to tell folks, but the truth of the matter is 9 times out of 10 problem trees are really not problem trees. You know there are so many things that people say to other people or that even tree services say to people, like but they’re just not true.

Alisa: Or maybe it’s unhealthy and there are ways to fix it.

Basil: Exactly. Yeah. 

You know it’s just sort of what we do on those consultations is just educating folks about the trees and about the biology, how it works and why it’s probably not a problem, and then 90% of cases you know why it’s not an issue.

Alisa: Yeah, and I noticed. So on that ABC 11 article, the headline was “Raleigh tree service owner willing to lose business to help save the planet” which is awesome. 

I love that you got so far to that edge. But obviously, you didn’t lose your business.

Basil: We didn’t. 

It was a calculated risk, right? I had done a lot of writing to try to play out all the various ways that I thought it could go, and the scenarios were hard but doable. 

So I didn’t know, I was willing to lose it, truly. We were at a point where it was either just sell the company or, for me personally, it was either sell the company or do something radical, and we went radical. 

And we didn’t fail. It was good.

You know we ended up one of the coolest things at all, and this is like you know especially speaking to business owners: 

“When you take a stand for something, you’re going to go from having loyal clients which we always had, cause we did good service, to actually gaining a fan club. One of the things that were really crazy about 2020 that just blew me away is the development of this fan club, never experienced anything like it with our company. 

It’s a service company. Like service companies don’t generally have fan clubs.

And I mean this in a really amazing way. Like they were advocates, they were telling their neighbors they were ambassadors. And I really do think a big part of why we actually made it was because those people went out and talked to other people, and they’re the ones who spoke loudest on the next-door app, and they’re the ones who are, you know: 

“Oh you got to try these guys.” 

You know? Those people. 

And I really think that was a lot to do with why we made it, maybe a smaller base but far more hardcore and excited about what we stand for.

Alisa: Yeah. Did sales fall at all?

Basil: They did. Yeah I mean we went from 5,000,000 in 2019 to 3 million in

2020, but part of that was COVID. But even without COVID it still was going to

be a big drop. 

I mean it was big, you know? 40%

Alisa: That’s a big percentage. How have things recovered or stabilized? How

have things gone since these last two years?

Basil: Well 2020 was a tough, you know, and difficult year. But we had COVID going


2021 was much better. We’ve been on an incline since then. 

So I think this year we’ll come close to our 2019 numbers. Probably, but not fully. 

Next year I would expect that we surpass those markers, and I care less about top line


I really don’t. 

I used to you know one of the reasons I sort of originally became an entrepreneur is cause I wanted to make a lot of money, wanted to grow a big business, and then over time I just realized those things are just not meaningful to me. 

We need money obviously but I just like there are more meaningful KPIs for me.

Alisa: Absolutely. 

So that’s a really good transition because I wanted to talk about Leaf and Limb becoming a B Corp.

I guess to go into that: 

What are your KPIs that you care about?

Basil: Depends on the department. 

So we have operations within Project Pando, which is a project we do. Within sales, we have all these different metrics. Some, of course have, to do with the things you’d expect

like revenue and profitability. 

But then we have a lot of other things like with staff we want to be looking at satisfaction scores, Gallup Q12 scores, impromptu engagement, trust. With Project Pando, we’re looking at you know trees growing and volunteers engaged. 

With sales that has a lot to do with trees saved. If we’re looking at service KPIs like the things that really are meaningful like soil rehabilitation.

It’s more of a people, planet and profit focus, the triple bottom line approach.

Alisa: So when did you become a B Corp?

Basil: We became a B Corp in 2019. And that was after attempting to become a B

Corp four times. 

We failed four times. Yeah, it was a lot.

Alisa: Wow

Basil: It was a difficult process to begin with.

Alisa: It is hard.

Basil: But then when you take a service company like ours which is very fleet

dependent it’s a different kind of situation. I think B Corp works really well

for some industries, then other industries are still trying to figure things out.


And I think as a service, definitely the tree care industry, we were the first in the industry to get that credential.

Alisa: It sounds like you’re a perfect fit

Basil: We are, now. 

I don’t think we would have been 10 years ago. Anyway, all this to say we did have to do the process four times. And at the very end of that, we went to a special committee at the clinic and they said, basically: 

“Look, we need you all to submit an essay and get into more detail at the stuff we’re not seeing on this, the on the actual form.” 

That really helped. I’m really glad they let us do that.

Alisa: It was really important to you to become certified. Why?

Basil: Well, the last couple of times were just, you know, I really wanted to pass

the metric you know. Like this time, I’m not going to fail this one. 

I just actually did say okay if we fail the fourth time we’re going to have to just walk away, because this is getting crazy, but I really was just keen on passing the threshold. 

You know it’s just something we wanted to do. It’s a cool credential I actually didn’t

know as much about it then as I do now. 

It helps to be in the community. The more I learn about it the more I love it. But even then from an outside perspective, it still seemed very cool.

Alisa: So I founded my company in 2016 and my goal when I founded it was:

“We’re going to be a B Corp.” 

And we got certified, I think in 2018. And now we just recertified.

Basil: Oh okay. Yeah I haven’t done the research yet and I’m a little scared, but I have a year.

Alisa: Yeah, and it’ll also take you a while.

Basil: Yeah, it’s a lot of work, but we did start a B Corp team at Leaf and Limb,

so it’s been really fun. 

They’re going to help with the recertification, but the other thing they are doing is just generally, we’ve been using the handbook as inspiration for new things we want to do at Leaf and Limb. 

This team, that’s what they do. They review the book and then come up with cool ideas for Leaf and Limb.

Alisa: That’s amazing, how big is that team?

Basil: Right now it’s five

Alisa: Cool Yeah, I’m like: 

“That would be my whole team is five people.”

Basil: Oh. We have we’re at about 40 right now.

Alisa: So let’s talk about Project Pando

Basil: Yeah Project Pando is just one of my favorites.

Originally that was an effort whereby we would go out and volunteer as a company every month. And we did that for three years. 

We would just help a different non-profit each month. Then on the first Friday, we as a company would go out and do volunteer work. 

Really cool, really fun. 

The challenge was just we were doing a lot of work that was maybe not using our greatest skills because we know a lot about trees. So it was fun but I know in 2019, I was thinking this IS really the best use of our time. We were putting in a combined two to 3000 hours every year of volunteer time.

That was in 2019, I was thinking about just this effort we were doing and it occurred to me that we should focus on doing something we’re really good at. And that’s what got me onto this idea of where we are at, what we do now, is where it started in 2019 we go out and we collect seeds from wild native trees. 

And we actually raised these up into trees and we give them away for free. So that’s sort of the core thing of what we do. Its volunteer-driven, completely, and a lot of education goes with it. Not only do we want to grow and raise trees but we also want to get people engaged with growing trees and getting hands in the soil.

We’re trying to basically recreate my journey, which was as I got my hands dirty and learned a lot about trees, I went from being the person I used to be to being this person who cares a lot about ecology and environmental issues.

You know, I put a lot of time and effort to help him with those issues. So kind of hoping to create a cohort of environmentalists through this as well.

Alisa: Yeah, and so when you say volunteer-driven, is it volunteers within the

company or community?

Basil: Both. 

Yeah, we have a big Slack platform and we probably have about a hundred folks from the community who are active on the platform. We probably have another 50 who don’t do the platform but join, something like 150 folks from the community and then staff at Leaf and Limb.

Alisa: How many ages of kids are involved? Cause that sounds like the kind of thing that kids could be involved in.

Basil: All ages! 

I mean we have a rotating cohort of folks who want to come in and do projects. So like recently we worked with the Girl Scouts of North Carolina, Roseville High School Green Club, you know.

There are a lot of kid groups that do come through, and a lot of adult groups and corporate groups as well.

Alisa: Can you tell our listeners about where Pando comes from, like what is

the inspiration for the name?

Basil: Yeah. 

It’s the Pando colony of quaking aspens in Utah. The idea is that if you look at the quaking aspens it looks like a forest of trees but they’re actually one single organism. All of them are connected underground via one root system. So it’s one plant, and the idea with Project Pando is that we’re all rooted in the same soil. We’re all connected, good for one is good for all. And that’s just the driving motivation behind these efforts.

Alisa: I love that

Basil: I think it’s an interesting effort in that if we’re going to be doing mass reforestation efforts we have to figure out a way to actually get our hands on the trees. Not only do we need trees but we need to be careful what trees. 

So if we’re reforesting in a given area you need to look for what are called native trees. These are trees that actually live in that area and they’ve co-evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to be able to feed local ecology, those are insects and birds. So you can’t just get any tree. It really has to be those local that local ecology. 

Well. We have great efforts going on, the Chilean tree initiative, and UNC’s billion tree initiative. 

We have a lot of really cool Accords about reforestation, a lot of stuff to be done, but I don’t know that we’re focusing enough on the operational side of how do we go about getting billions of trees and how do we ensure that their native.

To be a native tree, you’ve got to learn how to collect seeds from that area. And let me tell you what, seed collection and stratification and germination is not an easy thing. There is shockingly little literature on this. There’s a whole body of work that doesn’t even exist. 

I’m not saying trees are the only thing we need to be doing to solve environmental issues. There’s a lot of stuff we need to do, but they’re definitely a key component. One of my favorite books of all time is Draw Down by Paul Hawkin. It’s got a hundred strategies that we should be embarking on today to help solve all of our major climate issues, and it’s a fantastic book that was done by lots and lots of scientists and experts from all over, but he puts reforestation in the top 10.

There’s a lot to do with soil and food. Trees play a big role in soil. 

So anyway this is my long-winded way of saying I love Pando for being a community effort

and I love that we’re raising trees, but what we’re really getting at here is that we really

want to provide an operational basis on how we go about doing mass reforestation.

That information just doesn’t exist and there’s no playbook for this. What we’re doing is we’re building an open-source blueprint that we’re going to give away for free because we want folks in communities around the world or country, but the world’s too big. 

So we start with the state, how about that, around the state to be able to do exactly what we’re doing, and we’re building the model so that you can do it with no time or with no money.

So whichever you have, go for it like you got money you can do it this way. If you don’t have money, you can do it with volunteers and scrapping wood and stuff like that. So I hope this serves as a playbook for how we can actually procure native seeds grow native season to trees and then get them en masse into the ground.

Alisa: How would somebody know what’s native to their area?

Basil: The easiest way is just a Google “native tree Raleigh” or “native tree North Carolina.” 

We have some really great resources here. We have the Native Plant Society of North Carolina, the North Carolina Botanical Gardens, the JC Rawson, and we have great online resources. Pretty easy! 

And I’ll back up one layer to get to a question that you didn’t ask but it’s worth knowing the answer to:

Consider, say, an Oaktree. 

An Oak tree feeds something like 500 different species of caterpillars and then another 500 or so species of leafhoppers and all sorts of other insects, and those go on and feed and lots of birds. 

So you can look at an Oak tree, and it is just a hub of ecology. It’s feeding a ton, it also is housing a lot. 

If we took a tree like a Japanese Maple, it’s a very popular tree but might only feed 10

different insects. Yes, it’s the sequestering carbon, and it’s doing some other good things, but what we’re missing there is it’s not feeding local ecology. 

Nothing in our ecosystem co-evolved with the Japanese Maple, it co-evolved

with other Maples, like a Red Maple or a Chalk Maple but not a Japanese Maple.

So when we talk about natives, the reason they matter is that they support

ecology to such a huge level. 

Over the last 40 years, 60% of all life on the planet has died: 

Birds, fish, you name it. So this is why native ecology matters so much, because we’ve got to be feeding these populations of birds that are migrating over, invertebrates that live in this area. 

We’ve just got to support them with actual food and places to sleep.

Alisa: I’m curious if you have kids?

Basil: I do.

Alisa: How do you talk with your kids about this?

Basil: You know right now I’m really just wanting to connect them with nature.

Alisa: How old are they?

Basil: Three and five

Alisa: Yeah I’ve got a six and nine.

Basil: Yeah, and we do talk about stuff. 

You know, like we’ll garden together and I’ll talk about biology with my oldest, and we’ll get into carbon. 

You know I love carbon, one of my favorite things in the world, and we’ll kind of go down the rabbit hole a little bit. He doesn’t understand everything I’m saying but I’m just

kind of getting him into it. 

I figured developing a love and a connection with nature was sort of the first step. We do a lot of hiking and that sort of thing.

Alisa: That’s what I was thinking about. 

You’re raising tree ecologists right, and that’s a part of the education that Leaf and Limb does for the community, and so this next generation and like each following generation like instilling that love from the beginning is so critical. 

And at some point, there’s the awful knowledge that they’re going to have to gain of this is what our planet is like now.

Basil: I’m a huge fan of systems thinking. 

Donella Meadow’s “Thinking and Systems” is one of my all-time favorites. Tom Wessel’s “Myth of Progress” one of my all-time favorites as well. 

I think when you start looking at systems theory, Donella Meadows would say that your great tool for creating systems-level change is winning hearts and minds. That’s out of 14 levels. 

So the way I see it, the best thing we can do is win hearts and minds. That’s exactly what we try to do, you know, through Project Pando, through Leaf and Limb, simply trying to create an appreciation for trees, soil, maybe a moment you’re like: 

“Wow, I never thought about that and even just opening up the possibility of changing your heart and your mind.” 

That to me is our role in how we make things better. and everybody has their role. I think that just happens to be what we want to do. 

We want to get people excited about trees.

Alisa: Yeah I’m getting excited about trees just in this conversation. 

I’m curious about Project Pando. It is a very long-term project, everything from collecting

native seeds to then donating trees. 

Who do you donate trees to and at what point?

Basil: Well our first batch of trees came online last year and it was about 10,000 trees. We did some general tree giveaways and we gave some to nonprofits that plant trees. Also gave some to some of the municipalities around here that wanted some: 

Raleigh, Cary, and then several other projects where they needed lots of trees. 

Kind of, you know, a smaller batch, this year we’ll have about 20 to 30,000 available, and then at this one location, and we’re at the Williamson preserve, which is a triangle land Conservancy preserve, and they’re an awesome organization.

We hope to be producing around 50,000 a year, but ultimately again, you know

those numbers matter. We do measure success on trees given away, but we’re

also measuring success on volunteer hours and on educational hours those are sort of the three things we’re looking at.

Alisa: I mean it sounds like there’s going to be a lot of diversity with those trees that you’re growing. 

What are some of those species?

Basil: Well this year we have about 50 different species. 

We have all kinds of Oak trees: 

White Oak, Red Oak. We have Turkey Oak, all kinds of fun stuff.

We’re growing some ornamental understory trees: 

Red bud, Native Fringe Tree. We have a lot of Hickory and walnuts. 

What we’re hoping to do is get to a place where we can instead of handing you a tree, we can actually hand you a mini ecosystem. So we’re growing overstory, understory, shrub layer with the idea that you know you could maybe turn your front yard into a mini forest. We’ll see if we get there. 

That’s the goal, but so far about 50 different species are growing

Alisa: Wow. 

That’s incredible. 

So I grew up in and I remember going to Umstead park as a kid and learning about trees and that the layers, like the stories of trees. 

I’m not saying it right, and I remember as a kid just that it was so beautiful and like there are so many beautiful native trees. And I mean we were circling back on it again now but you know talking about the reason that non-native trees come in is that they’re decorative, but it’s just RedBuds. 

They’re beautiful. They’re all blooming right now. 

I’m like: 

Ooh look at that pretty Red Bud, but then I guess it’s like why do people plant non-native trees?

Basil: It’s a ball of yarn. 

I don’t totally know where to untangle. I don’t know if it’s the architects, landscape architects, if it’s the nurseries, but there is definitely a preference for the exotic, the not from here.

Alisa: But then where those things are from, that’s not exotic.

Basil: You know what? It’s funny. 

I was in Iceland over the summer and their invasive plants are from North America, and I was like: 

“Oh yeah gentle reminder, you know we’ve all got this issue.” 

It was kind of funny I was like:

“Oh my God, it’s an invasive here, it’s a tree.” 

I knew, and I was just yeah.

Alisa: So recently we had another guest on who I think you know: 

Maria Kingery.

Basil: Her and Bob were just fantastic.

Alisa: They are. 

She got pushback from businesses sometimes that say that it’s hard enough to get one bottom line right, and it’s not realistic for some companies to focus on a triple bottom. 

How would you respond to that?

Basil: Well I think there’s a practical answer and an idealist answer. 

The idealist answer is, of course, the one you’d expect which I firmly believe, which is: 

There’s just stuff in life that’s more important than money. It just is. 

I Imagine that when I get to the end of my life, I’ll be a lot more excited about the people I worked with and the things we did that mattered versus the money that was in my bank


So that’s sort of my idealist answer.

My practical answer is I think it’s good business. 

When you care for your staff, it makes a huge difference in your bottom line. So if you’re trying to increase profit, maybe think about looking internally. 

Figure out how to create an amazing place to work, and you’l likely see a big gain in profitability. So that’s sort of the people component. 

There’s also a community aspect to that but the same logic applies: 

Start caring more about your community, engaging more in your community, with your community, and you’re likely to see dividends from that.

And then in terms of the planet aspect the ROI is a little less clear there. I’d have

to lean a little bit more on my Idealist answer. But I would say I think there

might be some business sense there. 

There’s absolutely a growing population of people who care about these things. So maybe you’re an air conditioning company and you figure out a way to do air conditioning that

doesn’t involve so many hydrofluorocarbons. 

You’re going to stand out to a select group who are really going to love you, and much like the experience we had at Leaf and Limb, you might go from having what is a great client base who are loyal and they pay their bills, to having an enthusiastic fan club who are the

people at the party who you know do the awkward like: 

“Oh yeah, you got to use this company there.” 

So I mean that’s great, that’s so there could be some ROI there as well, just it’s a little bit harder, but I think with the people it’s unequivocal. 

You’re going to see ROI from caring about your people and your community.

And you know what? Honestly, I’ve enjoyed this so much more. 

Like I have had the most fun in my career in the last three years. 

It’s just more enjoyable. I can’t promise that’ll be somebody else’s experience, but I imagine you’ll feel better when you get into Friday afternoon and you’re starting to think about your weekend or wherever it is that your hard work weekends. 

You’ll probably just feel better about your business and yourself. It’s a meaningful experience, and you know life is short. 

These meaningful experiences matter.

Alisa: Life for humans is short, but not trees.

Basil: Yeah I mean there’s the Bristle Cone Pine. 

And somewhere in California is hidden. I’m not sure it’s California but or a undisclosed location, 4500 years old.

And that’s a single organism. Then you get into your like clonal organisms which is like the quaking aspens we were talking about. There are trees in that category that I’ve lived for over 15,000 years, but even that’s kind of short. 

I mean four and a half billion years. 

Like it’s nuts.

Alisa: It is. 


Your brain can’t even like hold that. So I guess to summarize a little bit, I’m curious: 

What you would say the impact that you’re hoping Leaf and Limb will leave on the world?

Basil: It’s a little bit of a tough question because I battle it in my mind. 

You know why am I doing this and it’s hard not to be attracted to money and fame

and fortune in these things. So in that vein, my answer is I hope we do something meaningful, right? 

Like, I would love to leave a mark. 

I’d love to be a thought leader. I’d love, you know Project Pando, we’re also

working on Piedmont Prairie’s right now. 

And I realize there’s a lot of alliteration there, just now actually. 

This is another solution we hope to give out which is how to get rid of your grass, which is a whole other discussion.

We’re working on a lot of things that I hope create big thought leadership but in the other vein of things, I’m trying to make sure I’m doing things just for the sake of doing them because they’re good, regardless of what happens. 

And in that vein, I hope we have a healthy company, where people love to work and

they stick around for a long time and they refer their friends and say: 

“This is a great place. I’m so lucky I get to work here.” 

And that just at the end of the day it’s just a good place, good people doing good things, and at the end of it all, it’s just it has it would have been a meaningful and positive experience. 

So those are my two sorts of maybe dichotomous, I don’t know two ways I think about.

Alisa: They go together, and I agree with you. 

That’s my goal for my business as well, a place where people who work feel lucky to be and want to stay and that we do good things for the world.

Basil: Yeah! 

Because I’m trying to care less about money, about fame, and about who’s popular and who’s not. 

It’s hard, especially as a young entrepreneur that used to drive me full-on. I mean 15 years ago when I started the company, that was all I thought about. 

Now it’s much less so and I really want it to be even less so, but it’s, just you know, it’s a battle. 

You’re an entrepreneur, you know how this is. 

You’re always thinking about, I don’t know if you are, but I’m often thinking about how other people are doing well or maybe succeeding where we’re not, that sort of stuff.

Alisa: Oh yeah. That’s a daily thing, but this conversation has really picked me up.

Basil: It’s been fun

Alisa: So my final question is what person or company doing good has had the biggest impact on you?

Basil: Chouinard at Patagonia. 

I’m sure a lot of people know this one. It’s just so influential. 

The Responsible Company was a game-changer. I read that book in 2016 and that absolutely helped me crystallize my thoughts. I realized that book, specifically, was where I wanted to go. 

So he’s freaking awesome, and the company’s awesome. 

The people he has working for him; I’ve heard some of their stories that are just amazing people, but that’s the biggest one. 

Who’s yours?

Alisa: Well I probably wouldn’t be able to pick one, so it’s not fair for me to ask for one. 

I mean, to be honest with you, Maria Kingery is one of those people me.

Basil: So yeah, they’re such a great company and they’ve helped support Pando.

They’ve been so generous to us as a B Corp. They do this with every new B Corp.

It’s just really fantastic. 

We also had our solar system installed through them and they were great to work with. So it was a great experience all around

Alisa: And Maria has been a mentor for me for years. Yeah, probably she’s the one, but I’ve got several.

Basil: Good, that’s awesome.

Alisa: Well thank you again for joining me Basil, great to talk with you. If people want to learn more about you and what you’re doing how can they connect with you?

Basil: I’d say the website We have a newsletter there. We do educational stuff about trees every month. 

It’s no sales, and it’s just all education and fun stuff. Project Pando is also on the website, it’s one of the menu options. 

And then you know social media, we don’t do a great job but you could follow Leaf and Limb on Instagram or Facebook. 

And then I’m personally on Instagram.

Yeah, social media is not our strong point but the newsletter is great!