Last year, a new option for green funerals arrived in Tennessee. The Larkspur Conservation in Summer County is the first non-profit conservation burial grounds to open in the state. This 112-acre nature conservation sits beside beautiful Taylor Hollow and welcomes interested parties and their families.
The children of Dr. Russell Ward dedicated part of his land holdings to create this natural burial ground. They believe it is an extension of his legacy and a way to protect the land.
What is a conservation burial ground?
Conservation burial grounds are hallowed land protected forever by a conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy. This land includes trails that are maintained at a low-intervention level to preserve the natural beauty of the landscape, which differs in each state.
Conservation burial grounds are unlike traditional cemeteries in the following ways:
- Bodies are not embalmed before burial (often called a natural or "green" burials)
- Families can have a high level of involvement
- Caskets or burial urns are biodegradable
- No concrete headstone or burial vault
- Burial clothes are made of natural fibers
The land is considered a sanctuary and cannot be disturbed by local developments. When bodies are buried in a nature conservatory, it entitles the property to certain protections where factors such as lack of funding might force it to close.
Can anyone be buried this way?
There are many ways to incorporate environmental conservation into your estate plan, but you may need to be a stern advocate for your wishes. The field of green burial is rather new, and you will need to inform your family of your wishes early on.
Natural burials can be easier and cheaper than traditional burials. There are no laws that state you must be embalmed or buried in a metal casket, and it is your right to pursue other options. If you are interested in pursuing your green funeral options, the Green Burial Council recognizes cemeteries and funeral homes that make a genuine effort to reduce a funeral's ecological impact.