Eloise Woods: The esthetics of choosing a natural burial gravesite.

Grave at Eloise Woods.      photo by Tom Bailey

Grave at Eloise Woods.      photo by Tom Bailey

Mystery question for what happens after death: Where is my plot?

No, not the cemetery; I mean, which surveyed piece of land is my body or that of my loved one going to be buried in? 

Problems like this often don't emerge until someone dies. Americans have an aversion to death thinking which makes sense since life's strongest imperative is to live. But a bit of planning improves the chances of getting a green funeral and burial. 

When Tom and I picked out the gravesite for my father's natural burial last summer it was just after he died, but I knew about the process. I'd also been to the cemetery on several occasions. Natural cemeteries change with the seasons, the landscape is an integral part of the experience, and it would have been disorienting to have selected my father's plot in winter bareness and then bury him as we did in full summer with its dense vegetation and insect life.  

But the order in which afterdeath decisions are taken varies with circumstances and on a recent visit to Texas I experienced a gravesite choosing very different from my own. Ellen Macdonald, owner and "queen" of Eloise Woods Community Natural Burial Park just south of Austin, joined me and Melissa Unfred, an independent funeral director who works with green burial customers, as guests on Shades of Green environmental talk radio and afterward I asked to Eloise Woods to see the changes since my first visit almost three years ago. While Ellen and Tom and I were chatting, Melissa called to say she was with a woman whose husband had just died in the hospital; she wanted green burial for him, could she come out to discuss?

Nan and her friend Madeline arrived in a rattly Ford Explorer, driving up Ellen's dirt lane into the shade of her oak trees. Nan is Thai, and her friend acted as translator and facilitator. Nan ideally wanted Jim laid out on the ground for the vultures to clean his bones so first we had to get across that this wasn't something you do in America, and second that the principles of green burial would be a suitable alternative. How to explain American conventional burial, which we knew would be so different? I made the case that even though earth would cover Jim's body he'd be buried shallow enough that worms and bugs and microbes could get to him to clean his bones.

Once the formalities were taken care of we walked Ellen's paths searching for a gravesite. Ellen knows her property and the reasons people choose to be buried one place rather than another but it all began to look the same and I wondered how one would ever settle on a spot when seeing the cemetery here for the first time. Eloise Woods' 9+ acres flow down a hillside furrowed with ravines, covered with oak and mesquite and cedar forests. But not all is forest; interspersed are small areas of grass that in spring turn into wildflower meadows. As we passed through particularly dense woods Madeline suddenly said that Jim was a desert rat, and wasn't there an open place for him? With a real goal in mind, within five minutes Nun had chosen a spot in one of Ellen's grassy meadow sections. It wasn't what I would have taken but it was her personal choice.

Nun also wanted Jim laid out in her home until the burial, and this could easily be accommodated now that she was in the loop. But imagine your loved one dies in the hospital and you have a sense you don't want embalming, makeup, laying out, the emotional and physical distance from the body that conventional funeral and burial mean, how would you get from point a to point b? How would you even know the points exist unless you had read about green burial/funeral service?

Ellen said she does have families that take care of their dead from transporting, filing paperwork, washing and sheltering the body, to actual burying (though not digging--Ellen's soil is too hard for that) but they are from cultures where communal activity is usual. Perhaps more common is the story she told of a mother who wanted to bring her son to Eloise Woods when he died. Just exiting the hospital turned out to be a major drama as he was very large, and everyone found out really quickly how difficult it is to maneuver a dead body without professional help and morgue equipment. 

Home funeral practitioners take care of these details and since Melissa had been called to the hospital to pick up Jim's body for the funeral home, Nun was lucky. You generally have to be pretty clued in to do all this. If you want to have a say in your burial or the burial of someone you love, educate yourself ahead of time. Pick out a cemetery if not a plot. Choose someone to help you manage--a funeral director, death doula, alternative afterdeath care practitioner. There'll be some expense involved but you're paying for someone else's expertise. If you have a family that wants to work together that's great, but you need to tell them ahead of time and you should all know what you are doing.

I would have attended the funeral but Jim was buried about the time we headed to Austin's airport. If I visit Eloise Woods again I can make a pilgrimage to his gravesite, see how it is settling into the landscape.

 

 

 

 

 

The Natural Burial Cemetery Guide goes to print!

In the next few weeks I will be publishing The Natural Burial Cemetery Guide in a print edition. This applies to the complete edition; the regions Northeast, South, Midwest and West will still be available only in PDF for the moment. Though personally I like the flexibility of the digital format for updating, I've talked to people who don't feel comfortable with the digital book and businesses that want to display a physical copy. And handling a galley proof of the printed guide myself, being able to flip through the pages, reminds me of how much I like a physical book. It encourages browsing; the mechanics of a digital book don't. 

Just five months ago The Natural Burial Cemetery Guide went public, capping several long years of research and outreach into the vision, the dreams, the businesses and the people of green burial, ending finally with my burying my own father in a natural burial cemetery. In May the guide won the 2017 Green Book Festival Wild Card award, and I've given talks and interviews and posted about it. It's not perfect, but just as the field evolves and changes with more people get ting involved and learning about it, I hope to keep the guide adapting to the future. 

Please let me know if what you see is of benefit, if it answers your questions, and if things are afoot in your region that I don't know about. When I hear from readers it connects us up to a giant web--like the ecosystem we wish to be buried in.

DEATH CAFE: Discuss death without averting your eyes.

"What's the one thing you have to do to get to heaven?" was the ice-breaking question asked at my first Death Cafe. The people sitting in a circle of folding chairs came up with all sorts of possibilities. After four or five answers, Marilyn told us.

"You have to die."

We looked at each other, and relaxed. This wasn't going to be a morbid, or religious, chat. Possibly it could be fun.

I've written and posted about Death Cafes for a couple years now, and yesterday finally got my chance to attend what sounds on the surface like one of the more peculiar discussion groups "with no agenda, objectives or themes...(not) a grief support or counseling session." "At a Death Cafe people drink tea, eat cake and discuss death. Our aim is to increase awareness of death to help people make the most of their (finite) lives" (www.deathcafe.com). The Death Cafe model was developed in London, has no staff, and is run in local groups on a volunteer basis by people like Stephanie Kip, founder of this cafe in northern New Jersey, who are dedicated and not afraid to spend alot of time shepherding something along. There have been 4645 Death Cafes in 49 countries since September 2011.

Death Cafes always gather around food and drink and talk. In green burial we emphasize communication; making it easier for families to discuss afterdeath options and death in general. I'd come partly to peddle The Natural Burial Cemetery Guide and was startled to realize when the moderator, a pastor at a local United Methodist church, asked us to introduce ourselves and say why we were there, I could talk for hours about green burial but I don't really address my own death. Yet there I was.

The subject for the cafe was obituaries: What would  someone say about us or inscribe on our tombstone if we had to put aside our accomplishments? There were 12 people and we split into two groups. Most were older than me but everyone was there because it was a space to not feel strange about discussing death. Half had been to at least one previous meeting.

As I worked overtime to think of myself outside the box of what I have done professionally, only pat answers occurred until I realized that my coming to child- and eldercare relatively late in life had made me into an empathic person. 

"As a teenager I was afraid to babysit, but you could say about me that now I have a profound understanding that what I do and say is remembered by children and affects their lives."

Why shouldn't we come up with the good stuff about ourselves while still alive? When my father died my family gave our mother the gift of a celebration of their joint lives rather than a memorial service for just him.  

After sharing, we discussed the future of this Death Cafe, which had been meeting for free in the library where Stephanie worked. She was retiring her job and we'd have to pay going forward, which isn't part of the cafe plan. Nor did we want to be associated wth places of worship; housing for the elderly or infirm; or senior citizen centers.

I brought copies of my guide plus postcards but didn't put them out; this was a place to discuss emotions and ideas, not practical information about what to do when death occurs. There are places for that. Not many venues exist where people don't shut down and avert their eyes at the simple mention of death.

Will I repeat the experience? Possibly, but most days for me are already devoted to some aspect of death. To find your own nearby Death Cafe enter your zip code on the website. It's a bit confusing as the cafes are listed as past or future events, but you can find contact info for organizers who can tell you more.

You can even start your own Death Cafe.  

DEEPDEAD project: Finding traces of human presence in caves, soils and landscapes

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"Humans are ruining the Earth from beyond the grave: Scientists warn decomposing corpses are altering the chemistry of soil." *

So reads the title of an article that came out in late April and spread quickly across the international news. It summarized the findings of Ladislav Smejda just released at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2017 from the DEEPDEAD Project that said chemical traces of human bodies can be detected in soil hundreds or even thousands of years after being deposited. This goes for bodies left on the surface, bodies buried, and those cremated and scattered in scattering gardens. The article's title is sensational to get people to read it, but the concerns are real.

In this space I have elaborated on the problems of burying biodegradable urns filled with ashes because the concentrated ashes appear to poison the surrounding soil, rendering it unfit for planting. What Smejda is saying is that human remains in general contain concentrations of chemicals otherwise considered nutrients that may overwhelm the soil. In other words, natural burial can be too much of a good thing, even as it does so much to reduce or eliminate other environmental downsides of conventional burial.

I wrote to Smejda today hoping he can shed light on what this might mean for green burial. Decomposing animal bodies also contain concentrated nutrients, but animal bodies are not accumulated in cemeteries (except for pets) and are often broken up by scavengers. With land use already an issue for many people, breaking our burial grounds up into ever smaller spaces wouldn't make much sense.

Smejda's presentation certainly didn't negate the goals of green burial. Our afterdeath choices will affect the environment for a very long time. "It's a message to us to consider our present day and future practices and behavior so we potentially direct our impact on the environment in the right way." 



http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4448314/How-humans-ruining-Earth-grave.html#ixzz4hLr8f03m 

Natural burial cemeteries don't pollute.

Old cranberry bogs adjacent to Steelmantown Cemetery natural burial ground in New Jersey. photo by Tom Bailey

Old cranberry bogs adjacent to Steelmantown Cemetery natural burial ground in New Jersey. photo by Tom Bailey

The last time I wrote about soil it was to extol what it could do to the space above a dead body; i.e., act as a smell barrier. The second wondrous thing is what it does below. This is vital to understand, as after the shallowness of green burial graves, worry about contaminating a water supply ranks high as a reason to hobble efforts to develop a natural burial cemetery.

Take Resh Mill Preserve as an example. Doug Caroll and Deirdre Smith developed plans for a conservation burial ground on 66 acres, 30 minutes from downtown Baltimore. The land was old farm and pasture in need of restoration; something that natural burial, and conservation burial in particular, is good at. They would institute all the usual principles; no embalming, no burial vaults, biodegradable burial containers only. Graves would have to be machine dug because the soil is rocky, and markers would be flat fieldstone. 

"We looked for the right piece of land for ten years," said Deirdre, and they thought they'd found it. A land trust would have a permanent conservation easement on the property. The road up from the city is very peaceful with rolling hills, horses, cows, but the area is under intense pressure to develop for the growing suburban population.

Then in 2016 as they were hoping to begin burying, plans unravelled when the neighbors went to the county to stop it. Opponents' concerns focused on the safety of the streams and local drinking water, and protection of neighboring property values. In July Baltimore County Council passed Bill 50-15 to require any owner of land in the county wishing to develop a green cemetery to present the findings of a hydrogeologist--someone who determines the impact on nearby streams, wells and the local water table--to prove its impact would be acceptable. Ultimately this point became moot because zoning laws were changed to make it impossible to use the land for any cemetery at all.

What is at the heart of the fear of water contamination? Water supply issues always come up; it's one reason new cemeteries are hard to start; but they fuel fear of the unknown with natural burial cemeteries. 

Water filtering through soil from rain or irrigation eventually reaches a water source--stream, underground aquifer, river. From there it finds its way into wells and reservoirs where we get our drinking water. Fear of a cemetery may be felt by neighbors who take water from their nearby properties or those who depend on a municipal water supply that can be affected by the cemetery. Historical cemeteries often predate the neighborhoods that surround them but like noisy highways, if you want to insert a cemetery of any kind, conventional or natural, into an existing neighborhood you have to meet requirements. States generally set separation distances for cemeteries and water sources; in New York it's 100 feet for a well. In North Carolina a new well can't be established less than 50 feet from a cemetery. Michigan sets the same distance for cemeteries as for septic tanks. New cemeteries must also dig test holes to determine how close water lies below the surface. Every effort is made to ensure that water coming from a cemetery doesn't reach a water source. That goes for conventional and green burial cemeteries alike.

But why is there a minimum distance set? If cemeteries are polluters, why are they allowed anywhere near habitation? Because of, you guessed it, the wonders of soil.

There are two types of pollutants that concern people: chemicals and diseases. Soil takes care of both by microbes, which are very good at breaking down or decomposing organic compounds. Wood, flesh, bamboo, cotton cloth. Burying a human body in a casket in a concrete vault is a good way of keeping out these microbes, though eventually everything will break down. The paint and varnish on expensive caskets are toxic but they aren't usually a problem because people who bury fancy caskets generally encase them in hermetically sealed vaults precisely to protect them.

Soil microbes are also very good at destroying pathogens that cause disease. They do this to protect plants from taking them up in their roots. The bacteria that decompose a body are not the same ones that make a person sick, and most bacteria and viruses don't survive the death of their host. In the case of infectious diseases that may survive it's unlikely that such a victim is going to be buried in a local cemetery, natural or otherwise. Embalming chemicals kill most pathogens but embalmers are exposed to any that don't.

So, about those embalming chemicals. Ever considered where they go? Into a dead body of course, but not all of the fluid stays inside and when the embalmer is working, the table holding the body is constantly flushed with water, which unabashedly goes down the drain and into--you guessed it--the water supply. About that water pollution...

 

 

 

 

Empty seats at a green burial talk.

Over crackers and cheese a couple weeks ago a friend asked me what I had been doing recently. "Writing and talking about green burial," I replied, and launched enthusiastically into a description of a blog piece about soil in graveyards.

"Ugh," she said. "It's so morbid."

We're close friends; she's aware of my several-years passion and her reaction surprised me. It hurt, but I didn't think much more until last Sunday when I gave a presentation on green burial at the local Ethical Culture Society and the leader remarked on how many regulars had not attended because of the subject matter.

It's easy to lose perspective on what a subject means to others, especially one that some people do feel passionate about. You can't discuss green burial without bringing up embalming (none preferred), caskets (shroud preferred), (no) burial vaults, memorialization. So this week I took a step back and immediately got depressed. Did I want to be a herald for something my friends found morbid? Was I right in backing green burial? What about all the land that's used even if it is preserved, what about greenwashing, do I really know the science behind soil, are green cemeteries going to survive, is all this just a flash in the pan?

Do I think about my own death any more than I did when I assumed my body would be cremated and my ashes scattered? No. So how can I blame others, and how, if we don't think of our own deaths, will I convince people to consider green burial, which you can't imagine without imagining death?

But death doesn't have to be our own death. This, I realized, was key; it had been the key for me (my father's death last August allowed me to bury him green) and it could be for everyone else. An excuse to think about death without contemplating one's own.

Death of someone close will come no matter how old you are. It could be a grandfather, a friend, a mother, brother, cousin. Even a pet dog; suddenly there's a body to be disposed of. You can't ignore that. Whatever is done will have environmental as well as emotional impact.

So why not make a statement? The funeral business is encouraging us to individualize our final statements. Motorcycle funerals, caskets made to look like beer cans, cloisonne urns.

Why not recycle a body. Make your own statement and help convince someone else in the process.

 

Dear Ancestor...where are you?!

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My family is not great at memorialization. I can't point to a historically wonderful headstone marking our presence in this country, even though all branches that led to me arrived before the 20th century. We don't have a family cemetery plot. Anyone who died in the last thirty years was cremated and their ashes scattered. As Palmer's poem hints, graves are where ancestors mix and markers help the living find the dead.

When my father died last year we buried him at Steelmantown Cemetery in south Jersey because it's a natural burial ground and also because family members live nearby, which meant something as I'm 2 1/2 hours away. Like most such cemeteries Steelmantown limits individual grave markers to natural field stones, regulates engraving and oversees placement. For reasons having to do with the scattered nature of my family we haven't gotten around to finalizing a stone, though we did pick one out from the piles that Ed saves from digging in the cemetery. I thought the memorial would be important, but the shear emotional content of my father's burial looms so large that I don't miss the marker. 

I would however be very upset if the position of the grave were lost because Steelmantown is a forest and much as I want my father to become part of the landscape, I also want his death to be individually known. The fact that my recent relatives were all scattered to the winds at death leaves a hole--I have no place to visit them.

Doing away with polished headstones is a big part of green burial. It both adds an alternative to the impersonal grassy cemeteries of conventional burial and fits in with the concept of burial as part of a natural landscape. But we shouldn't lose sight of the importance humans place on memorialization. On being remembered. Bob Prout, funeral director and green burial advocate, once told me that beyond the first generation of mourners very few graves are visited, yet we need to heed the sensitivities of families. Like me.

As the green burial concept expands and more cemeteries come on line, the option becomes local. Now if you want green burial your choices will be limited by location. You should still be sure to think about and accept consciously a cemetery's grave marker policy. Burial grounds in sensitive ecological areas and ones that are creating a new landscape often opt to prohibit human traffic once the body is committed to the earth, and provide instead for group memorialization on a wall or scattered boulders. Others like Steelmantown allow engraved fieldstones that match the geology of the area. All define and record graves so their locations don't get lost as the landscape is restored.

The absence of grand grave memorials can be be shown in a positive light. Their lack should not be viewed as a negative.  

The wonders of soil.

                                                                                                              

                                                                                                              

Soil is a miraculous substance. It's made of inorganic material (tiny bits of weathered rock) and organic matter, what in the garden you would call humus. Soil sustains land life yet is an incredibly thin covering on the earth. To create a good garden you ideally mix compost, defined as decayed or decaying organic matter used as fertilizer, into the 8 to 12 inches of topsoil. Digging allows air to penetrate, the compost nutrients to spread more evenly and water to sink in. Then you plant seeds in the very top of this cultivated layer.

Plants grow tall so they can thrust their leaves into the air but they also need air in the environment around their roots. They depend on microbes in the soil to render the compost useful (like us cooking our food), help keep the soil loose, and protect them from harmful pathogens and microorganisms. These are oxygen-loving bacteria and fungi; without air they can't multiply and do their job. Digging the soil before and after planting maintains the top foot or so of the garden as a good microbe habitat. Below the topsoil the further you dig into the subsoil, the smaller the portion of organic material, the fewer microbes and the less active it is.

When we think of compost we think piles of autumn leaves, but it's not just plants that provide useful organic matter. Anything once living can be composted. When I was a child we carefully kept animal matter out of the food scrap bin. I always thought it would somehow make our compost pile impure, but animal bits compost just fine; in fact there's more nutrients in animal bits than in plant bits. The reason you keep them out is because "unfortunately their smell will act like a magnet for any rats, mice, foxes, raccoons, or cats in the neighborhood (or even coyotes and bears, depending on where you live), who will ransack the compost to eat them."*

When I wrote about Vermont Bill H.3 to change minimum depth of human graves from 5 to 3.5 feet I began by wondering what made grave depth important enough to be a requirement for green burial along with no embalming, no vaults, only biodegradable caskets or no containers at all. I learned that we should bury the body as high up as feasible in the ground because then it can decompose efficiently into the surrounding soil and become part of that wonderful landscape we wish to be under. Yet if the idea is to plant the body among the microbes, why don't we simply dig it into the topsoil, put a decent layer of soil on top and be done with it? 

I started off with the garden to fertilize your mind with images of lettuce or bean seeds swelling in the dark soil, putting out roots and sprouts. Now we get to the ick, because two primary roles of active soil in human burial are to provide a smell barrier and to get rid of pollutants and diseases. When you bury a human body in the topsoil, the oxygen-loving microbes want to make compost out of it so they get really active, and their work produces odors that lure in other workers to help complete the job. It's these others that are the reason for burying a body deeper in the soil--not the beetles but the animals--raccoons and other scavengers that would dig up the grave. Dogs--yes, even your beloved poodle would become a scavenger. Death at the surface employs all the critters to help dispose of remains as quickly as possible, but we prefer a more sedate schedule so we bury our dead. The microbes in the active soil also break down molecules of substances we consider pollution, and disease organisms which survive death. But these microbes are another story.

According to Michelle Acciavatti, Vermont H.3 co-author, it's generally agreed that 18 to 24 inches of soil above a grave is enough to provide a smell barrier. So an overall grave depth of 3.5 feet "is sufficient to protect bodies from detection from scavengers--there just isn't enough smell to attract them. There certainly is nothing the human nose can detect." It may not be in the most active topsoil but this, she says, represents "the fine line between what we can accept as natural vs. what we accept as respectful to the body and I think right now we are so cut off from nature that that is harder than it should be--think of the people who think the steak they buy shrink-wrapped in grocery stores doesn't come from cows!"

Soil is an ecosystem. The trick to green burial is to fit a human body into that ecosystem and not to isolate it.

* https://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/10-things-you-should-not-put-in-a-compost-pile

 

 

  

Why does grave depth matter for green burial?

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Groups desiring to make green burial work in Vermont recently shepherded a bill through the state House of Representatives to raise minimum grave depth from 5 to 3.5 feet, considered a shallow depth that provides adequate cover for a burial. Michelle Acciavatti, an End-of-Life Specialist who founded Ending Well services in Montpelier, Vermont co-signed H.3. She says the bill accommodates people who wish to be buried in accordance with the environmental values by which they live without taking away the right of others to choose their own preferred burial.

My home state of New Jersey is also one of just a few states identified by the Green Burial Council as requiring deep burial. New Jersey Health and Vital Statistics law 26:6-36 says: "Every dead body interred in any burial ground or cemetery in this state shall be buried so that the top of the outside coffin or box shall be at least four feet below the natural surface of the ground, and shall be immediately covered with at least four feet of earth, soil or sand." Effectively this requires a burial depth of 5 feet, similar to Vermont law.

So what's the big deal about the right to a shallow burial? Alot of effort is going into this, plenty of mobilization of pro-green burial people in Vermont and across the country, yet it's an aspect that's not always included in green burial descriptions. In fact two years ago the Vermont Legislature confirmed the rights of cemeteries to dispense with burial practices that are generally recognized as inhibiting decomposition--metal caskets, concrete vaults and embalming. States don't have laws requiring caskets or vaults. They do, however, try to regulate burial depth because it relates to general public good, a fact reflected in the last words in the New Jersey law: "This section shall not apply where bodies are placed or buried in properly constructed private vaults so as to prevent the escape of noxious or unhealthy gases therefrom."

All bodies decompose, even those that have been embalmed. It's the time it takes that varies. As soon as someone dies their tissues start to break down as the cell walls no longer hold, and bacteria that normally live inside are released from their usual tasks and begin to feed on the body that contained them. If a dead body is left on the surface (where animals die) the flesh generally follows a standard schedule of decomposition, and the internal process is aided and then continued by organisms from outside--more bacteria, fungi, insects, scavengers. When a body is buried this assistance is inhibited, depending on the type of soil and the depth of burial. The top several feet of soil where oxygen reaches provides the most active decomposers. 

Key to a difference between deep and shallow grave depth is whether it allows the inevitable decomposition to benefit the earth. After all, green burials don't occur just anywhere, they are usually performed somewhere in hopes they will benefit the landscape. As Michelle says, "Green burial is defined in its simplest way as burying a body so that it has minimal negative impact on the environment and a positive beneficial impact on the environment. It is important to recognize that the definition is a two part statement." If your shrouded relative is buried too deeply, the nutrients in the body will get dispersed in the soil but not reach the trees or blueberry bushes planted on the grave. Your relative's chances of becoming part of the landscape are greatly diminished.

Lee Webster, a board member of the Green Burial Council which certifies green cemeteries and educates the public to the facts around green burial, testified before the Vermont House Committee that burial depth of 3.5 feet is shallow enough to be within the area where active bacteria and insects provide the best chance of rapid aerobic decay. "This is the primary goal of green burial—not to attempt to protect the body, but to aid in its natural biological surrender to the earth." The argument that there's a risk of infection from dead bodies as they decompose has been disputed by every major health organization; decomposition itself neutralizes most biological infections. A second argument, that the “furniture”—elaborate metal and exotic wood caskets, big and heavy concrete vaults—require deep graves is automatically eliminated in green burial where shroud burial is best or simple biodegradable caskets are used. As Lee testifies, studies of pollution near existing cemeteries show that the leachate from caskets and vaults is a bigger problem than from the bodies themselves. I can think of knee-jerk reactions to shallow graves--that animals could dig up a body and that a shallow grave can have a disrespectful connotation. But 3.5 feet is shown to be adequate protection against anything/one digging up a body and a compromise must be made between allowing active decomposition and the need to protect burial from scavengers.

New England, for all its progressiveness on other fronts, has only a handful of green burial cemeteries. While municipal cemeteries may permit people to be buried green on their grounds, the region needs more true hybrids and dedicated natural burial cemeteries. The success of Vermont bill H.3, which moves on now to the state Senate, could provide an incentive for more area startups.