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Finding sanctuary in Verona

Natural Path Sanctuary offers green burials.

A wooden sign indicating where the center, the farm, and the cemetery are located in a green field.JPG

Verona’s Natural Path Sanctuary is the first cemetery in Dane County to exclusively have green burials. | Photo by 608today

It’s Earth Day, and the Natural Path Sanctuary is quiet.

It’s the first cemetery in Dane County that exclusively follows natural/green burial practices: No embalming or vaults, only biodegradable containers and shrouds allowed.

A farm road leads to green rolling hills, spartan trees, and blue skies.JPG

The Farley Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting ecological sustainability, social justice and peace. | Photo by 608today

Located in Verona, there are approximately 500 individuals buried on the property, with about 1,500 ground rights purchased for future burials. Shedd Farley, director of the Farley Center for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability that operates the cemetery, has plans to expand the property to allow for more.

Why green burial?

Farley notes:

  • There are sustainability benefits. Green burials do away with non-biodegradable materials like embalming chemicals, chemically treated caskets, and vaults that have extraneous cement.
  • It’s less expensive. Nationally, the average cost of a conventional burial is between $7,000 and $12,000. Green burials range in price from $500 to $5,000.
A large tree sits in a green cemetery with a path and park benches on the right.JPG

Natural Path Sanctuary is one of the few cemeteries in the Midwest exclusive to green burials. | Photo by 608today

What is the Farley Center?

The cemetery is part of the larger Farley Center nonprofit. The organization wants to protect “the land so that it can serve as a natural learning environment for all.”

It’s mission is manyfold, including giving a portion of the property as a farm incubator for underrepresented communities.

Nurturing community growth, the organization also hosts a variety of events on the property, including summer markets, art shows, and festivals.

Keen on environmental preservation, the organization’s cemetery is one way to preserve the natural beauty of the area in perpetuity.

What are your options?

Aside from Natural Path Sanctuary, there’s Circle Cemetery in Barneveld. Established in 1995, it’s Wisconsin’s first green cemetery on a nature preserve.

For more information about green burials and where cemeteries are located visit the Green Burial Council.

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