It has been a dynamic, exciting month and we have many things to share; this probably could have been five or more newsletters, but we didn’t want to overwhelm everybody’s mailboxes! We do want to be sure to get all the updates to you, though, so please click through the table of contents to read more about everything that's happening at Vermont Forest Cemetery.
Vermont Forest Cemetery held its Grand Opening on Saturday, October 7th, 2023. Over 30 people braved the rain to help us celebrate with poetry reading, and talks about casket weaving, history and forest conservation. We are so grateful to all of you for helping us make this day possible. VFC Board member Jim Hogle wrote a brief summary of his thoughts on the opening. Now that the Cemetery is open, the public is welcome to visit. The land is open to everyone, regardless of whether or not they want to be buried there. Come and take a hike any time, but please stay on trails and do not disturb any grave sites. If there are many vehicles in the parking area it is likely that a burial is taking place at that time, and we ask that visitors be respectful of the needs of the family. You can also sign up for a guided tour to learn more about the Cemetery and our mission.
The First Burial
We had our first burial the week we opened. It was a very special experience for us on the VFC team and the family has given us permission to share it with all of you. To start with, we had help preparing for the burial from our friends Eric and Catherine, team members at our sister cemetery Spirit Sanctuary. They also happen to be the first people Michelle ever coached through a natural burial when they buried Eric’s father at Spirit Sanctuary! On the day of the burial we also had help from our friend Carl, a wildlife biologist and one of the original natural burial advocates in Vermont. With excellent help from two young grandsons, accompanied by a set of lively mandolin tunes, the family was able to say goodbye in exactly the way they hoped. They were incredibly generous and gave their consent both to a documentary film crew and to Vermont Public to be present for the burial and to take pictures and video. We will be sure to share that story when it airs. We are very grateful for the opportunity to share the family's natural burial story with all of you.
VFC in the News
Vermont Forest Cemetery is getting a lot of attention. Just in this month alone, the Cemetery has been featured in Seven Days, VTDigger, and on the VPR program “Out There.” This type of media coverage is so important as it is the primary way most of you have found us! Please help us keep reaching families: tell your local media outlets, favorite podcasts, and magazines that you want them to cover Vermont Forest Cemetery!
Ways You Can Help
We have accomplished a lot with sweat equity, gifts from many people close to us, and work from volunteers. However, there is more that needs to be done to make Vermont Forest Cemetery sustainable. We have gotten it to this point on our own, and it is now time to ask for the help of all of you who have followed the progress of the Cemetery over the past several years. This will be an ecosystem of support, and as there are many needs there are also many ways to help!
We are fundraising for capital investments to support the daily operation of the Cemetery.
Right now, everything is being done as volunteer energy and graves are dug by hand.
Every little bit helps.
Visit this website
Seriously, our website is our primary way of communicating with you and we've worked really hard to make sure there is a lot of information for you there.
We’ll be adding video and audio clips soon for those of you that prefer non-written communication!
Come to a volunteer day. There is still a lot of trail work to be done. Please email to join the list!
Become a Docent
So many people are asking for tours. We can train you in giving one.
Help with digging graves
Join our roster of people willing to help us dig graves. This is several hours of work at a time. Email us to learn more.
Help with admin/bookkeeping
are you willing to volunteer these skills for 5-10 hours a month?
Help with social media
Share our posts
tag us in yours
help us come up with content?
Bring your skills as a maker
If you are a woodworker, or if you sew, weave, carve stone etc. please contact us!
Be featured in an event
Are you a performer or an artist who is able to volunteer your art? We'd love to have you perform at one of our events!
Help us find winter event locations
The weather will turn soon, and we're hoping to hold educational and fundraising events throughout the state. If you know of a group or a venue, let us know!
Help with connections and community building
Who do you think we need to know?
Send us an email if you are interested in supporting this growing and passionate community.
November Open House Event
Touring the Cemetery
Now that the Cemetery is open, we have begun to offer scheduled guided tours. It has been a lot of fun to share the excitement of others as they explore this very special place. We have added two more days of tours on Saturday the 4th and Saturday the 18th of November: at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm. The tours have been very well-attended, in response to the outpouring of public interest. We have a long way to go to meet our accessibility goals, but now that the road is in, we hope everyone is able to have a meaningful experience on the land. We’ve also been enjoying having musicians present on tour days. If you are interested in playing some Saturday, let us know! To schedule, go to the Tours page. We are sorry we cannot accommodate one-on-one tour requests at this time. We are working on training volunteer docents so that more people are available to provide tours. If death is imminent, we will of course do everything possible so that a spot can be selected as soon as needed. If you are unable to visit to select a spot, we can make video tours of options for you. People working with Michelle through Green Mountain Funeral Alternatives to include burial at Vermont Forest Cemetery in their end of life plans may opt to receive a tour as part of the process. If you wish to see the property on your own, you should feel free to come and explore. The Cemetery is open from dawn to dusk. Please be mindful that a burial may be taking place and respect the existing graves and forest.
How to Reserve Your Place
For those who are sure they want to be buried at Vermont Forest Cemetery, we have made our Graveholder Application available on the website. We encourage everyone to read the Handbook and to schedule a visit before buying a grave, but it is not required. However, please be aware that natural burial is still a relatively uncommon way of giving back at the end of life, and is a participatory process. Planning for natural burial includes discussing who will help with the burial. Many mainstream funeral directors may or may not be prepared to support families through the process. We can offer planning help through Michelle's business, Green Mountain Funeral Alternatives.