We're writing this newsletter on the first sunny day in weeks and feel like we can actually watch the trees unfurling towards leaf-out! This time, when it seems like the whole world is waking up, is one of the Vermont Forest Cemetery team's favorite parts of the year, and we're excited to share all of the things coming into bloom after our winter of work. Many of you wrote to tell us that you heard Michelle on Vermont Public. Last year, Vermont Forest Cemetery was the focus of its own piece "Life after death: natural burial and cremation in Vermont's first forest cemetery." Two weeks ago VPR spoke with Michelle again, this time going deeper into her legacy and all the ways natural burial is beginning to become normalized in Vermont since she was part of the campaign to fully legalize natural burial in 2016. You can listen to and read the story on the VPR website. "Natural burials haven't been allowed at many New England cemeteries. Now, they're catching on." If you're interested in making natural burial an option in your local cemetery, Michelle is always happy to speak with cemetery commissions about her natural burial experiences over the last decade. Please join us in wishing Tim the best of luck as he moves on from the team to focus on woodworking. We look forward to sharing his gorgeous caskets, urns, and other wood products and are grateful for his contributions. We're very excited to announce we've hired a Cemetery Sexton! We'll be introducing Paul next month. He's already been very busy finalizing the platting of the cemetery and trail design and creating social media sites for Vermont Forest Cemetery. And we're getting scheduled with contractors to build the access road to the burial areas. Our anticipated opening date isn't exact but we're hoping for late summer or early this fall. We now many of you are eager for us to be open... and we are too! We think Vermont Forest Cemetery is a special place, and we can't wait for all of you to come to know it. However—as we hope you can understand—for safety reasons, we cannot start bringing folks to the cemetery before the road is complete. Our commitment to you is that as soon as we are ready to open we will invite everyone to come to visit, pick lots, and attend events. But we are unwilling to do that before we are actually able to bury people. Some of you are aware that Michelle was away for most of April. She had the privilege of serving as a death doula and funeral director for her aunt Kate who died on April 20th. Michelle and her family cared for Kate's body in her home before traveling for her burial in western New York. Here is a photo of Michelle leading Kate's natural burial ceremony in the historic Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester:
There are still so many in Vermont who don't know about this work. Please tell people about Vermont Natural Burial and let them know about our website. Encourage people to join our mailing list and to stay in touch. Previous newsletters are all available on the website (just click "Blog" under the Resources tab) and these can be shared with your community. And folks can also follow us on Facebook or Instagram.
As always, if you have specific questions please do not hesitate to email us.