Green burial has sparked an interest among land conservation circles in Maine recently. The idea isn’t new—interment without concrete vaults, embalming, or unrecyclable components was the way all burials were conducted until a few generations ago. What is new is that land trusts are thinking of green cemeteries as a way of conserving land in perpetuity for gentle multi-use—trails, habitat, and green space as well as burials. The idea is a win/win: people who treasure conservation and the land ethic may choose green burial as a way of affirming their values in death as in life. At the same time, land trusts are looking for imaginative ways to preserve open space with public access and involve the human community in their mission.
The Kennebec Land Trust is the first in Maine to create a conservation cemetery for green burials. They put out the idea to their membership, and a family responded with an offer to cover the funding for the land and set-up costs, aided by a grant that KLT received. The result, Baldwin Hill Conservation Burial Ground in Fayette, will be ten acres within a ninety acre land acquisition.
A panel of presenters will represent various aspects of green burial and conservation cemeteries including Alison Rector, a board member for the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine; Chuck Lakin, a home funeral educator and woodworker who makes coffins; Joyce Foley, President of the Cedar Brook Burial Ground in Limington; Jean Berman, an Interfaith Chaplain and Hospice Coordinator of Volunteers, who studies, practices and teaches about Jewish end of life traditions, and Susan Caldwell of Kennebec Land Trust.