WILMOT- It’s a question we all must answer, where will your final resting place be? Do you want a traditional burial or would you prefer to have your ashes scattered? Or, would you chose an alternative, one that allows you to bring new life even in death?
Sixty miles south of Cleveland, there is a place called Foxfield Preserve, a 43-acre nature preserve in Wilmot where you can be buried naturally, your remains becoming part of the soil that feeds the native prairie grasses, wildflowers, and trees.
“Really what we’re doing here is truly dust to dust,” explains Foxfield manager, Sara Brink. “There is no embalming, no concrete vaults, no steel caskets.”
Bodies are laid to rest in woven wicker baskets or simple burial shrouds. Whatever it is, it must be biodegradable.
Some people choose natural burial for environmental reasons, others because in life they had a special affinity for nature.
“Prior to the civil war this is the way everyone was buried,” explains Sara, “and I think there’s something really beautiful about going back to a simpler way of dealing with our dead.”
Foxfield opened in August of 2008 as part of a larger nature preserve in this part of Stark County.
Funeral home owner, Mark Busch says fifteen years ago “green burial” was not part of his vocabulary. But just as the popularity of cremation grew over time, so too has the interest in green burial.
“The ideas that are coming to us today are far more personal and reflecting that person’s life than anything we’ve done in my 37 years of being a funeral director,” Mark says.
“A lot of people want to know about green burial just from a curiosity point. The frequency of it occurring is probably 6 to 8 times a year.”
At Foxfield, families choose a plot much as they would at a traditional cemetery. They can mark it with a stone and find it again using survey pins and GPS coordinates.
Selecting that certain location is just as personal as each individual.
The manager of Foxfield described assisting a mother whose son had died suddenly.
“As we walked through the cemetery together, she spotted a patch of wild blackberry and recounted for me that when her son was little they used to go berry picking…She was just overcome by this sense that this was exactly where he should be. And so that’s where we buried him, was beneath the blackberry.”
Foxfield is one of only nine conservation burial grounds in the country and the first in Ohio.
A decade later it is a place where families return not simply to seek that simple stone that marks a particular grave, but to take in all the beauty and life that exists, a life that their loved one is part of forever.