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What's New at Arcadia

Historic Burial Grounds of the New Hampshire Seacoast By Glenn A. Knoblock

Arcadia Publishing has releases a new title in the Images of America series, the historic account of the cemeteries along the New Hampshire Seacoast. This collection is a must for anyone interested in local history, genealogy, or colonial-era art. Please visit Arcadia Publishing to purchase your copy of Historic Burial Grounds of the New Hampshire Seacoast and browse other cemetery books!

Green-Wood Cemetery By Alexandra Mosca

Arcadia Publishing announces the release of the historic account of one of New York's most famous cemeteries. Aracdia Publishing's Images of America series has an extensive catalog of many cemetery publications! Please visit Arcadia Publishing to purchase your copy of Green-Wood Cemetery.


Quoting Death in Early Modern England: The Poetics of Epitaphs Beyond the Tomb By Scott L. Newstok

An innovative study of the Renaissance practice of making epitaphic gestures within other English genres. A poetics of quotation uncovers the ways in which writers including Shakespeare, Marlowe, Holinshed, Sidney, Jonson, Donne, and Elizabeth I have recited these texts within new contexts. Visit Palgrave Macmillan and purchase your copy today!

Living by the Dead By Ellen Ashdown with illustrations by Mary Liz Moody.

A memoir about living beside a cemetery--and about the members of my family who came to rest at Roselawn Cemetery in Tallahassee, Florida. Please visit Kitsune Books for more information.

Graveyards of Chicago: The People, History, Art, and Lore of Cook County Cemeteries By Matt Hucke And Ursula Bielski.

Discover a Chicago That Exists Just Beneath the Surface - About Six Feet Under! Take a tour of Chicago's permanent residents! Please visit the Lake Claremont Press website to purchase your copy of Graveyards of Chicago today!

Epitaphs: The Magazine for Cemetery Lovers By Cemetery Lovers

For information regarding subscriptions, single issues, submission guidelines, deadlines, classifieds or advertising for future issues, please visit The Cemetery Club.

Guardians of the Soul: Angels and Innocents, Mourners and Saints with photography by John Bower and foreword by Claude Cookman

Indiana's remarkable cemetery sculpture is now available. Please visit Studio Indiana for more information.

West Springfield Massachusetts: Stories Carved in Stone by Rusty Clark

Features information on early New England gravestone carvers with more than two hundred photos and illustrations. Please visit the Dog Pond Press website.

Greensprings Cemetery offers natural choice PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 26 November 2006

NEWFIELD, N.Y. -A short drive southwest of Ithaca, past the timeworn silos and one of the state's last remaining covered bridges, sits Irish Hill Road, a winding dirt byway that stretches to a place where nature meets eternity.
It is here where Greensprings Natural Cemetery - a 100-acre expanse of rolling hilltop meadows flanked by 8,000 acres of forest - can be found. The eco-burial ground, a relatively new concept starting to take hold, is the first of its kind in New York and one of about five in the entire nation.

"Greensprings is an alternative to conventional cemeteries. It gives people a choice," said cemetery President Mary Woodsen. "We can marry land conservation and fair death care."

Since its opening this summer, four people have been interred at Greensprings in simple graves surrounded by miles of woodland and distinguishable only by rocks that have been laid around them. Native saplings such as white pines and sugar maples serve as headstones. Families may opt to engrave a flat, natural fieldstone indigenous to the Finger Lakes as grave markers.

Greensprings offers a truly "dust-to-dust" approach where the deceased are returned to the earth in shrouds or biodegradable coffins, preferably from locally harvested lumber. Bodies cannot be embalmed, a process that treats a corpse with chemical preservatives to temporarily prevent decay.

"I once thought that everyone had to be embalmed. People need to know that they don't have to be embalmed or buried in a manicured cemetery," said Greensprings secretary Jennifer Johnson. "This is just the natural way. The ultimate in recycling."

Irvington resident Matthew Pearson joined the cemetery's board of trustees because, he said, he believes strongly in preserving open space. Pearson, 45, and his wife are among the 45 people who have purchased plots at Greensprings.

"Nature is forever and we are all part of nature," said Pearson, an investment banker. "This is a happy place and a nice resource. It presents a much more positive spin on someone's death."

So far, there have been more than 550 inquiries about the cemetery, Pearson said. Greensprings has a total of 18,900 available plots. A 15-by-15-foot site - where only one person is permitted - costs $500. By comparison, an average traditional funeral, with cemetery charges, may cost upward of $10,000.

Interest in natural burials is indeed growing and Pearson said he is now working with conservation groups to bring a "green" cemetery to the Hudson Valley, within 60 to 90 minutes from New York City.

"When people die, they have few alternatives. A lot of people are bereaved and poor," Pearson said. "We're just trying to create choices."

The movement began in the late 1990s when physician Billy Campbell opened the first natural cemetery in the U.S., the 32-acre Ramsey Creek Preserve in Westminster, S.C. Since then, eco-graveyards have been established in Florida, California and Texas. Many people first learned about green burials from the popular HBO series "Six Feet Under" when one of the main characters, Nate, was buried in a nature preserve, covered only by a shroud, during one of the show's final episodes in 2005.

At Greensprings, hiking, picnicking, cross-country skiing and bird-watching are encouraged. The land was once used as a dairy farm and the plan is to restore it to its natural wooded state with walking pathways, Woodsen said. There are some trails now that wend their way past milkweeds and raspberry bushes.

"In another 50 years, I'd love to see a lot more of these in the country where you can really say you are saving a chunk of land," Woodsen said. "Being here makes death feel very real. It's completing the circle of life."


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