Nature preserves across the country are beginning to get on board with green end of life services by giving families an alternative type of burial. People who want a natural burial can be buried in the preserve so long as the process is 100% green. The idea of being laid to rest on a protected piece of parkland is appealing, but it’s nothing like a traditional burial.
One of the latest green burial nature preserves is Larkspur Conservation, a 112-acre protected woodland in Sumner County, Tennessee. The conservation’s founders wanted to give local families a cheaper, more eco-friendly burial option so they set aside a segment of land for plots. To say the response has been positive is an understatement.
Not Your Typical Cemetery
Larkspur Conservation is nothing like a typical cemetery. Chances are unless you were told, you wouldn’t know there were burial plots in the meadows not far from the hiking trails and picnic areas. That’s done by design.
The goal is to make it seem as if the environment is unchanged and the way it has been for centuries. In an effort to make the process as green as possible, no headstones or markers are allowed. If the family wants to they can gather rocks from the surrounding area to mark the gravesite, however, there’s no guarantee they’ll stay there. Families also can’t adorn the grave with plastic flowers or other manmade memorabilia.
Instead, families are encouraged to plant a tree at the gravesite. It serves as a way to identify the burial plot and helps preserve the natural environment.
Families that have already reserved plots at Larkspur Conservation note that they enjoy knowing the preserve is protected. They’ve seen other cemeteries in the area become overshadowed by development and highways that run right along the cemetery grounds. At Larkspur there’s no concern that the peaceful resting place will be disturbed.
Caskets Optional at the Conservation
Another distinct difference is the caskets optional policy. People can be buried in just a cotton shroud if they so choose. Biodegradable caskets are also allowed. These include simple pine, wicker and cardboard caskets. Families can also opt to have a custom casket made of all-natural materials.
If you want to have a green cremation first then be buried there are biodegradable urns for that too. There are even urns with tree seeds already inside so all you have to do is bury the urn and wait for the tree to sprout.
Special Preparations for a Burial in a Nature Preserve
Like other green burials, burial in a nature preserve has to be done in a certain way to ensure that no contamination occurs. Guidelines have to be followed or there’s a risk that the ground can become contaminated. In addition to only using biodegradable caskets, the special preparations include:
- No embalming fluid can be used at any point.
- The deceased should not be adorned in accessories or clothing that are made with any type of plastic or non-biodegradable material.
- Graves will be dug just four feet deep to stay within the living soil.
Like Green Cremation Texas, the founders of Larkspur Conservation have interacted with countless families that all say the same thing. They want end of life services that are green, simple and meaningful – three things that you don’t always get with a traditional burial.