I’m not much of a planner. Invitations which require my commitment beyond a couple of weeks into the future get put into my “maybe” file. Although I admit – and those closest to me would agree – that I’m a little extreme about living in the present, it is pretty common that most people fail to plan for their final arrangements. The truth is if death catches me by surprise (earlier than expected) then I should at least make my general wishes known. We have a natural burial ground right here in Milton. In the spirit of Earth Day, we decided to take a look!
Jim Bell, creator and owner of Milton Fields Natural Burial Ground moved to Milton almost 40 years ago and renovated the old Nix family farmhouse. His farmhouse and 30-acre property is adjacent to the 17-acre green cemetery. Prior to establishing Milton Fields, Jim spent years researching the idea.
While church and city cemeteries are not regulated by the state, private cemeteries are. He had to receive state approval, rezone the property, and set up a perpetual-care endowment. He partnered with Conservation Burial Partners, the consulting arm of the Green Burial Council, which is the “gold standard” among land trusts, park service agencies and the cemetery/funeral profession.
Everything was in place for Milton Fields to begin welcoming permanent residents in June 2009.
On average, green burials cost one-half to two-thirds less than traditional burials. A single burial plot at Milton Fields ranges in price from $1595 to $1895. Double and family plots are available as well. Cremated remains may be buried in biodegradable urns or scattered in a section of the cemetery reserved for ashes, with prices ranging from $400 to $500.
Bell provides the plot only. He can refer to funeral services providers who can prepare the body, conduct memorial services, dig the graves and set up tents / chairs. The individuals and families who choose natural burials tend to desire a simpler, more natural approach to theirs and their loved ones’ final arrangements.
Green burials at Milton Fields do not use formaldehyde-based embalming, caskets made of metal, or concrete burial vaults. There are no tombstones, vaults or plastic flowers. Unobtrusive, flat markers or slightly raised mounds of dirt w/ a light covering of grass mark the burial plots.
From an emotional and financial standpoint, pre-planning is a smart decision. It is an act of love. Pre-planning eases some of the stress of those left behind during what can be a difficult time for them. CM