Article by Sally Wagoner
Photos courtesy of West Michigan Burial Forest
“What is Green Burial?” will be answered on October 28, 2pm at the Newaygo Heritage Museum. The public is invited to learn about this eco-friendly, sustainable method of interment, and how it may come to our area. Annica and Peter Quakenbush of West Michigan Burial Forest will provide a free presentation in the Forest View Room of the Museum. It will begin at 2pm, right after the 2nd annual Newaygo Scarecrow Stroll.
“Green Burial” is a way of caring for the dead that has minimal impact on the environment. It avoids the use of toxic embalming and vaults. It does not produce the large footprint of carbon emissions as found during the process of cremation. Green Burial allows the body to decompose in a natural way using biodegradable materials.
Annica and Peter Quakenbush are striving to provide a Green Burial Forest in Newaygo County. Taking natural burial one step further, they aim to protect a local forest and its rich, biodiverse native habitat in perpetuity through a non-development management plan. The Green Burial Conservancy will be in conjunction with an established conservation organization such as the Michigan Nature Association.
What would walking through this “cemetery” be like? It would be like a walk in the woods: minimal disruption to the forest, tended trails, perhaps coming across small markers at some final resting places to remind one of the sacred ground underfoot. Native flora and fauna that are unique and often endangered in Newaygo County would be protected and enjoyed: White Pine centenarians, wild Dogwood trees, Wood Betony and Birds Foot violet plants, Trilliums, and Ghost Pipes, among others plant species. Preserving a habitat that would not be destroyed for homes or industry would ensure that a variety of birds are present for viewing: Indigo Buntings, Ovenbirds, Scarlet Tanagers, Warblers, Barred Owls, and others.
Like many new endeavors, Annica and Peter have hurdles to jump in order to make their dream come true. “Informing residents and civic leaders about how a Green Burial Forest would benefit our community is our first important step,” they state.
The benefits of a Green Burial Forest in Newaygo County are many, according to Annica, Peter and local supporters of this burial option. It would contribute to the mosaic of protected natural conservation areas managed by such organizations as the Michigan Nature Association and the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, thus providing more healthy habitats for our native plants and animals. It would offer a place of peace and solace for friends and families of loved ones who are laid to rest there. It would contribute to the local economy, as businesses would be supported through the local funeral director services, as well as restaurant and overnight lodging by visiting family and friends. And Newaygo County would be on the map as a leader in new ways of promoting and protecting our native and natural environment – as the first Green Burial Forest in Michigan.
Join NCEC on Saturday, October 28, 2pm to learn more about Green Burial from Annica and Peter. Come at 2pm, right after the Scarecrow Stroll, to the Forest View Room of the Newaygo Heritage Museum. The event is free and refreshments will be provided.
Registration is preferred as seating is limited. To register: go to www.eventbrite.com, and search for “Green Burial Newaygo''; or www.nc-ec.org, and click on the Events Calendar, October 28 Green Burial; or go to Facebook Events at Newaygo County Environmental Coalition (NCEC2). You can also email NCEC: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about West Michigan Burial, go to: www.miburial.com.
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