Your legacy. Earth's future.
Vermont Forest Cemetery is 56 acres of upland mixed-hardwood forest located in the geographic center of Vermont, on the flanks of the third range of the Green Mountains.
In this, the state's first forest cemetery, founded by Vermont’s leading expert in natural burial, Vermonters can choose to return their bodies naturally to the ecosystem, making burial a final act of generosity and gratitude for the land that nurtured them in life & sustaining the planet for future generations.
Click below to learn more about the process of natural burial, policies, and prices.
What makes this cemetery unique?
The future of burial is as old as the hills. This cemetery offers a place for people to gather, to honor their dead and the forest, and to participate in outdoor art and learning. Our mission is composed of five branches to ensure our natural burial cemetery can exist harmoniously in both the ecosystem and human social networks:
Giving our bodies back to the land. In a natural burial cemetery, bodies are buried so as to not disrupt the natural process of decomposition and the land retains its natural character. The microorganisms in the body work together with the microorganisms and mycorrhizal network in the soil (along with heat from the sun and oxygen) to efficiently recycle the body into nutrients, including carbon and nitrogen, for the surrounding plants and trees. Natural burial is a slower and more gentle process for the mourner, offering the body in service of the needs of the land. The forest itself is transformed into a living memorial so that both the forest and families can heal, grow, and create a vibrant and healthy ecosystem where future generations can reflect in peace.
Regenerating and preserving the forest. Vermont Forest Cemetery is the first natural burial cemetery in Vermont dedicated to the regeneration and preservation of Vermont's forests. Our partnership with the White River Natural Resources Conservation District will guarantee that the forest is protected from development in perpetuity. Forest burial provides an alternative to conventional practices which contribute to our climate crisis. It looks different from a conventional cemetery. Graves are nestled amid the trees and can be marked by surface markers. After burial, graves are allowed to re-wild with understory vegetation.
Balancing the needs of mourners with the needs of the forest. Vermont Forest Cemetery is a place to honor the life, ethics, and values of the people we love. As a place of beauty and healing it offers artists and other creatives a refuge to explore how the natural world inspires them. In future years we will host residencies here. We welcome proposals from community members about projects in art of any discipline including written, visual, music, and performance.
Exploring our relationships with the natural world. One way we intend for Vermont Forest Cemetery to serve the community is by offering a place for learning, research, and education. We’ve designated two sites as “field research stations” for this purpose. These sites have separate entrances so that the peace of the groves is not disrupted. Although natural burial is as old as the practice of burial itself (which predates homo sapiens), our developing understanding of environmental science means there will always be questions about how to improve the practice for people and the planet. As a forest preserve, we also offer opportunities to explore broader questions of forest health—from the soil to the sun—as well as the microbial, insect, and animal communities that have shaped the forest. The role of this place in human society, meanwhile, makes the cemetery an excellent setting to investigate questions about grief and mourning rituals. Community members will also be able to use the research stations as 'base camps' for educational activities such birdwalks and tree identification walks. We welcome proposals from anyone who has a question they want to explore.
Welcoming all. We recognize that this kind of burial takes community and sustains community. Our hope is for the cemetery to become a vibrant home for a rich network of engaged Vermonters. We’ve created a list of volunteers interested in leading birdwalks, walking meditation, and workshops on things like tree identification, willow casket weaving, and co-creating mourning rituals. Vermont Forest Cemetery has committed from the start to be welcoming and open to all people. We have constructed the first part of Cemetery Lane so that people of all physical abilities can access the gravesites. As a cemetery in the heart of Vermont, we hope all Vermonters—as well as those "from away"—can develop enduring relationships with this valuable and special place.