Green burials could be on the rise in Wisconsin - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Green burials could be on the rise in Wisconsin

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VERONA (WKOW) -- In 2006 numbers show there was only one place in North America for green burials.

Today there are more than 300.  That includes a few in Wisconsin.  

Green burials are becoming more popular as more people are concerned about potential harm a modern day burial can have on the environment.  Sheddon Farley, the coordinator of the Natural Path Sanctuary in the Verona area, explains the increase in awareness is generational.  "You can attribute some of that to baby boomers who grew up in a time where the environment became, our impacts on the environment became a lot more evident to them," he says.

Natural Path Sanctuary is the first and only exclusively green cemetery in Dane County.  To date, more than 200 plots have been sold.  Farley's family started it in 2011 after burying his mother on their family property.  In order for his father to be able to rest their too, zoning required that the property be labeled a cemetery.  

Green cemeteries and burials vary from other cemeteries in several ways, Farley says.  "A green burial is what used to happen exclusively pre-Civil War... We call ourselves traditional cemeteries, and we refer to modern cemeteries as conventional."  Green burials have no embalming; bodies are wrapped in shroud cloth or placed in natural wood caskets; and grave markers are minimal or non-existent.   "We want it not to look like a cemetery, and we want it to look like a natural woods," says Farley.  "Our philosophy is based on the environment.  We're not going to save the environment, but it's another thing we can do to save the environment."  

There are only four cemeteries, including Natural Path Sanctuary, in Wisconsin that perform green burials, but Farley predicts more are on the way.  

"In the past month, I've probably gotten four or five calls from groups or churches or townships who are interested.  I got one last night," he says.  "We don't look at it as making competition for ourselves; we look at it as a way of making more people aware."

Recently Farley has been spreading awareness about green burials through outreach.  He said since the initial curiosity and rush of business after opening, business dropped off some, but it's starting to pick up again.  

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