1. What is a conservation burial ground?
A conservation burial ground bears little resemblance to a conventional cemetery. There are no manicured lawns or rows of headstones. Our philosophy is that Foxfield Preserve is a nature preserve first. Trails meander through forest and prairie and naturalists are restoring the site by planting native prairie grasses, wildflowers, and trees.
2. What type of burials are permitted at Foxfield Preserve?
We have only natural burials (also referred to as “green burial”). This is how most people were buried throughout the ages. The use of concrete vaults and embalming are relatively new concepts, becoming popular during the U.S. Civil War times.
In a natural burial a person is laid to rest in a biodegradable container such as a wooden casket, shroud, or cardboard cremation container. They are not embalmed and no vaults are used. The body is dressed in natural fibers such as cotton or wool. The goal is to embrace the bodies return to the earth.
3. Is natural (green) burial legal?
Yes. Most of what you may think is law is either rules of individual cemeteries or common practices assumed to be legal requirements. There is no law that a vault must be used but many cemeteries require this for ease of maintenance and to achieve a higher burial density. Embalming is only required in a limited number of states, and under rare circumstances.
4. Doesn’t embalming preserve a body for all time?
No. It only slows decomposition for a short time.
5. Can I have a viewing if the body is not embalmed?
Family members cannot be denied their right to view the remains. However, a public viewing is something you would need to discuss with your funeral director. Some will allow public viewing with the use of refrigeration, but you should confirm this in advance if this is important to you.
6. Can we bury or scatter cremated remains?
Yes. Foxfield Preserve accepts cremation remains. There are areas of Foxfield Preserve specifically designated for the scattering of ashes. For a small fee we keep record of the genealogical information and GPS coordinates of the scattering. Over the years many people have scattered the ashes of loved ones at The Wilderness Center.
7. What type of grave markers are permitted?
Grave markers are permitted but optional. Markers must be a natural stone. They cannot be polished and should appear rough-hewn. They may be engraved. Stones must lie flat on the ground, cannot extend more than 3 inches above the ground and should not exceed 216 sq inches (12” x 18”) of surface area.
8. How large are the plots at Foxfield Preserve?
The plots at Foxfield Preserve 10 ft. X 20 ft., and are suitable for the interment of one casket, one casket and one cremated remains, or two cremated remains.
9. How deep are graves?
Graves are excavated 3.5 ft. deep. Since vaults are not used, soil is mounded over the grave. Graves at Foxfield will settle naturally, depending on weather and precipitation.
10. Will animals disturb the gravesites?
While animals are interested in overturned soil on the surface, there are no scavengers in our area that would dig that deeply to disturb remains.
11. Does a nature preserve cemetery hurt water quality?
No. Natural land produces cleaner water than urban, suburban, or agricultural areas. The forest and prairie at Foxfield Preserve will provide cleaner water for the Sugar Creek watershed.
12. Can my family dig the grave?
No. Hand digging a grave is very hard labor and requires skill few people possess. Family and friends are welcome to close the grave. Families who have participated in this ritual have found it to be a powerful experience. Cemetery staff will be on hand to supervise and assist.
13. May we have a funeral at The Wilderness Center?
Graveside services are welcome at Foxfield Preserve. Indoor services are best handled by professionals or the family. Shelters at the Interpretive Building may be available to rent for meals or receptions following interment, though the busy schedule of programs offered throughout the year can make this difficult to predict. If you are interested in staying in Wilmot for a meal following services, many families have chosen to work with our neighbors at the Amish Door to facilitate this.
14. Is natural (green) burial against anyone’s religion?
Considering the diversity of religious beliefs that is a tough question. It does not conflict with any major religions. Some faiths require it. Natural burial is in keeping with the most ancient burial traditions.
15. How is the cemetery maintained?
Foxfield is a nature preserve, so there will be very little maintenance compared to a typical cemetery. The trails are maintained to provide easy access to the site. Fallen trees will only be removed if they are a danger, or if it is necessary to gain access for a burial. Controlled burns of the prairie sections will occur every 3-5 years to encourage healthy growth, as prescribed by TWC’s conservation manager.
16. How will families locate gravesites at Foxfield Preserve?
Ohio Law requires Foxfield Preserve to keep careful records of precise burial locations. These records are kept on paper and electronically. Interment sites can be located precisely by measurements from survey pins. GPS coordinates are also provided to families following interments, but the Foxfield staff is always happy to help families locate a gravesite.
17. Can I plant a tree or flower on my plot?
All plantings must be approved native species, coincide with our site restoration goals, and be suitable for the site. Foxfield staff can supply approved species lists and help with choosing a memorial planting.
18. How can I purchase a site at Foxfield Preserve?
The Foxfield staff can help you arrange for a visit to the site or can help you select a site if you are unable to visit. Informational sessions are also offered at The Wilderness Center’s Hart Interpretive Building monthly. Visit our contact page to reach our staff.
19. Should I pre-plan with a Funeral Director?
It is best to visit Foxfield Preserve before Meeting with a Funeral Director. That way you can select a space and have most of your questions answered. While our website offers the names of all Ohio funeral homes who have received certification from the Green Burial Council, we do not require that you work with one of these. We are happy to work with any funeral home that you choose. The most important thing is that they understand and are supportive of your wish to have a conservation burial.
20. How can I learn more about natural (green) burial?
We encourage you to explore the helpful links provided on our Resources page.