Franklin Co. Cemetery Goes ‘Green’

Blair Graninger stands beside the Forest Rest sign.

Blair Graninger stands beside the Forest Rest sign.

by Jason Dunovant, Smith Mountain Eagle

There has been a growing trend in the last few years to simplify the burial process. As part of that trend, many cemeteries are beginning to offer a new, greener, option for those searching for their final resting place.

The Evergreen Memorial Trust dedicated the Forest Rest Natural Cemetery in Franklin County this past year. The natural cemetery is located adjacent to Mountain View Memorial Park in Boones Mill. It offers a different option for those who may not be interested in the modern burial process.
Forest Rest Natural Cemetery does away with many of the aspects of most modern cemeteries. Gone are elaborate caskets, expensive burial vaults, and large stone grave markers. Instead, Forest Rest provides a simple burial much like the ones performed over 150 years ago.

“There has been a resurgence of interest in going back to the way things used to be,” Evergreen Memorial Trust President Don Wilson said.

Those choosing to be buried at Forest Rest are given the option of natural, easily biodegradable caskets made of pine, wicker, or sea grass. There is even the option of using only a linen shroud.

Embalming is also optional. And when embalming is done, only natural and biodegradable embalming fluids may be used.

Grave markers are also small and unobtrusive. Cedar markers can be used as well as small stones with a person’s name and birth and death date etched on top.

Unlike most cemeteries, families are also encouraged to plant native trees as a memorial at the gravesite. This can help to give a more personal touch to a burial.

Wilson has been surprised by the interest in the natural cemetery since it was first introduced last year. He has noticed that many people are very receptive to the concept of a natural cemetery. Many people these days do not want the usual elaborate funeral.

“We’ve been getting a lot of calls and inquiries since it was dedicated this past year,” Wilson said.
In addition to being a more environmentally friendly option, it is also a much cheaper option. The cost can be half of the normal burial costs that can be as much as $6,000, according to Wilson. Funeral home costs can also be reduced if no embalming is done.

Besides the cost, the look of Forest Rest Natural Cemetery is unlike any average cemetery. The natural cemetery is located on five acres of beautiful forest. The site is left mostly undisturbed except for the occasional marker where future graves will be placed.

Those buried at Forest Rest would seem to truly go back to nature. In a few months time, the only evidence that a grave is there is the simple grave marker.

Anyone interested in more information on Forest Rest Natural Cemetery can visit their website at ForestRestNaturalCemetery.com or contact them at 540-334-5410.