For centuries, Vermont has been able to turn fall foliage into tourist dollars for the state. But there are two men who are now exporting the colorful leaves — for a price.
Frank Davis and Uwe Heiss have formed the Vermont Leaf Company, and are selling a dozen authentic Vermont autumn leaves for $20, or a box of 50 leaves for $40. They collect the leaves out in nature, package them in plastic bags and mail to your location, which is presumably nowhere near a deciduous forest.
The duo recently gathered colorful leaves in Szymanski Park in South Burlington.
"When Frank said we should ship leaves, I said, 'This makes perfect sense, let's just do it,'" says Heiss.
The company sees their leaves in a variety of settings serving a range of services.
"There are so many different ways that people could could make use of this. An office space, where everybody's in a cubicle. I'm sure that that would brighten some faces to be able to just strew leaves across," says Davis. "I can even see it at weddings instead of flower petals. A very Vermont kind of wedding, where people are just doing leaves."
Davis and Heiss gather the leaves primarily from maple trees and oak trees, paying careful attention to the richness and range of colors they collect.
"It's almost like flavors, you know? This is like lemon-lime, and, you know, cherry, and I'm always on the lookout for grape," says Davis.
"I'm really intrigued by this because I believe it can help other people," says Heiss. "You know, because just doing this work helps us, and I imagine someone else having a similar experience when they get the leaves."
One minor issue arose with the packaging and shipping of the leaves.
"Our vacuum machine doesn't really work well with Ziploc bags, so we have a special process that we borrowed from Orange is the New Black. We use a straw to suck the air our, and it works wonderfully," says Heiss, who acknowledges the "natural bacteria" he may be consuming in the process.
Orders for authentic Vermont leaves have already come in from Florida, California and New Mexico.