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Green Tree Burial Grounds
 Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the benefits of green burial grounds over a modern cemetery 
(Those established since 1865)?

Green burial grounds reduce the environmental impact and tend to support endemic plants 
and wildlife.  

Q. I thought embalming was required by law - Why don't you allow embalming?

Embalming is not required in any state, The Federal Trade Commission requires funeral 
service providers to inform consumers that embalming is not required .There are ecological
problems with conventional body burial such as the potential for embalmed bodies to leach 
formaldehyde into the ground. Formaldehyde has been regarded as a known carcinogen by the World Health Organization and is on the EPA's list of probable carcinogens. While conventional burial separates the body from the earth, natural burials put it to good use. Remains are buried about 1.3 meters deep, where microbe rich soils exist to efficiently break down the body naturally. Above ground, two to three feet of topsoil is mounded on top, and the grave is marked with a living object, such as an endemic tree or other indigenous flora species(s). 

Q. Will burying people without vaults and without embalming hurt water quality?

While the human body contains bacteria and viruses at death, many of these die (or become inert) within hours or days; almost all are inert within 5 years. Before any surface water is contaminated, germs must percolate through many feet of soil and rock, and then exit via a spring, a process that can take many years. The density of burials is much less than for modern conventional cemeteries. By returning the areas to natural vegetation, we expect an improvement of adjacent waterways and greater biological diversity over time. One must also realize that the recycling of human or animal remains is a natural process that occurs no matter where the deceased organism is placed. 

Q. I thought if the body was not embalmed, the burial had to be within 24 hours - is that true?

No. The deceased can be preserved for a number of days by refrigeration or the using of dry ice. Families may keep their loved ones in their home until the time of burial thereby permitting family to be more involved in the entire preparation and burial ceremony.  

Q. Will natural burials attract animals that could dig up the bodies?

Natural burial is an ancient and very successful method of burial. All bodies are buried at least 1.3 meters (4.265 ft.). Green Tree Burial Grounds’ Integrated Pest Management plan will help in control of those animals that could cause any removal of topsoil above the buried remains.

Q. Does Green Tree Burial Grounds have any restrictions related to religious affiliation?  No

Q. Can my church pastor perform the funeral service?  Yes. 

Green Tree encourages the family to be as involved as they wish in the burial process.

Q. How can we be sure that the burial grounds will be protected from development in the future?

Documents are filed to insure that the property remains a permanent burial ground. Also, a percentage of the lease or service price goes into a permanent endowment for the care of the burial grounds. The endowment will be used to help keep invasive species at bay, and help in special circumstances (after a natural disaster, for example).

Q. How do you keep track of where people are buried?

All plot leases are recorded on aerial map(s) and kept as a permanent record by Green Tree Burial Grounds. The family may mark the area with GPS technology and given to Green Tree Burial Grounds for their records. A marker stone supplied by Green Tree Burial Grounds or you may choose a rock or stone which will lay flat on the burial site, to serve an ecological purpose for habitat. All stone markers must be of native stone, consistent with the geology of the site. Trees, shrubs and wildflowers can also be used as grave markers but must be appropriate for the location. Families may not plant on the graves without the express permission from Green Tree Burial Grounds.

Q. I understand that you require biodegradable caskets but what if I have a medical prosthesis?

While we want as little non-biodegradable material buried as possible, we think that it is not practical or ecologically important to remove those items which have been a component of one’s physical self. 

Q. May pets be buried at Green Tree Burial Grounds?

Yes. There is a separate area for pets. Green Tree Burial Grounds does not prohibit pets being buried with owners on the same site.

Q. Will Green Tree Burial Grounds help in restoring the local environment?

Yes. Each time a burial occurs it allows the opportunity to remove invasive organisms and replace with endemic flora. 

Q. What about health concerns? Can’t diseases be spread if no embalming is allowed?

Embalming fluid is a disinfectant, but doesn't kill all the germs. It even preserves the agents that cause mad cow disease. It's also linked to health risks for embalmers: statistically, they are more likely to die from arteriosclerotic heart disease, leukemia, and colon and prostate cancer. They are also at risk from tuberculosis and perhaps other infections. Most infectious disease agents (including HIV and Ebola) die soon after the person dies unless the body is frozen. There is no scientific documentation to support health concerns.  

Q. May the family hold funeral or memorial services at Green Tree Burial Grounds?

Yes. Although we do not recommend any Funeral Homes per se to help with services, Green Tree does not discourage any type of plan families may have in regards to how the deceased is buried. A representative of Green Tree Burial Grounds should be allowed to be present for the burial. Green Tree Burial Grounds encourages the family and/or friends to help in the planning of the burial service.

Q. May the family/friends prepare the burial site or even dig the grave?

Yes. Again, Green Tree Burial Grounds encourages participation in the service. Family/friends may dig the grave, transport the deceased to the burial site, lower the deceased, filling in the gravesite, or help in the planting of native flora. Green Tree Burial Grounds believes that active participation in the burial process helps in the grieving process.

Q. How does the cost of a green burial site compare to that of a modern burial? What about the use of shrouds, blankets, baskets, or natural wood containers?

Your lease plot will include the eight feet by three feet burial site, opening and closing of the site, and flat sandstone marker. Since there is no embalming, vault, or non-biodegradable casket expense, the cost is naturally less expensive than that of a modern burial. Green Tree does allow for the family to provide a similar marker, opening/closing of site, and biodegradable container which would lower that cost. 

Q. What are the future plans for Green Tree Burial Grounds? Are there other nature-related activities?

Green Tree Burial Grounds has plans to construct a pond which will be located near the center of the property that will be available, along with the trails, to allow family/friends to visit and use as times for recreation and contemplation. The rules and guidelines for those activities are discussed on the website.