The Driftless Green Burial Alliance (DGBA) is an initiative of the Threshold Care Circle and exists to promote and develop natural burial options in Southwestern Wisconsin.
Ultimately, we envision a burial ground where people may be laid to rest naturally, in a biodegradable casket, shroud, or nothing at all. This burial ground, available and affordable to all, will serve as a sanctuary for quiet contemplation in nature, bird and animal watching, picnicking and celebrating life’s milestones within the beauty of a nature preserve. Our aim is a return to burial practices that conserve the natural world and deepen our relationship to the land we live and die on.
What is Natural Burial?
- reduces carbon footprint and contributes to the natural ecocycle
- may be located in municipal or religious cemeteries, private land, or on land under conservation easement
- encourages the use of biodegradable caskets, shrouds, urns, often made with local resources by local craftspeople
- does not allow toxic embalming fluids, vaults, herbicides or pesticides
- may install art, benches, native plants, or markers made of natural materials, such as native fieldstone or none at all
- may provide teaching and research opportunities
- may protect and restore wildlife habitat, and integrate sustainable native plant communities
- may create recreational, cultural and spiritual gathering venues and opportunities that are life-affirming
- offers an affordable alternative to conventional burial
Natural burial occurs when full bodies are interred in the ground in an eco-friendly coffin or shroud. Families can participate in many or all aspects of the funeral, including digging and filling the grave after any kind of service or gathering.
Natural burials provide families with a rich, meaningful, and healing experience while furthering legitimate environmental aims such as protecting worker health, reducing carbon emissions, conserving natural resources, and preserving native habitat.
Join those who are planning for a more environmentally responsible disposition of their bodies. Whether or not you have aspired to live a life practicing earth stewardship, you may wish for a gentle, simple option that meets your own and your family’s needs and goals.
Where We Are On Our Journey
Private or Home Burial is allowed in Wisconsin in that there are no state laws prohibiting this practice. However check with your local county and township to see if there are regulations at that level of government. In Vernon and Crawford county burial is permitted on private land. Crawford county asks that burial plot is indicated on property deed with coordinates. In Vernon county you will need to submit the form, “Declaration of Burial” with the Registrar of Deeds and pay a fee.
Local Conventional Cemeteries
There are many small local cemeteries that do not have burial regulations that prohibit a more natural burial, however that does not necessarily mean they would welcome a green burial. We are working to create a list of cemeteries in Crawford, Vernon and La Crosse counties that will work with families who want to provide this option for their loved ones. If you know of a local cemetery that should be on this list, please contact us.
Natural Burial Ground within our local public cemetery
We are excited to announce that the historic Viroqua Cemetery is opening a natural burial preserve within its cemetery on 25 acres of pristine meadow. The Driftless Green Burial Alliance is working in conjunction with the Cemetery Association to develop Southwestern Wisconsin’s first public natural burial ground and has launched a fundraising campaign. Members from both organizations recently completed the first ever 12- week Green Burial Master Class, and after years of research, we feel ready to bring this timely option to our community.
The inclusion of a natural burial section within the Viroqua Cemetery will ensure that for generations to come, people in this community will have the option to be buried in a way that is compatible with the health and sustainability of the environment.
Our fundraising goal is $50,000 which will cover many of the start up costs such as hiring consultants, purchasing equipment, plants, and simple signs. The initial funds will be used to hire a landscape architect who specializes in developing natural burial sections adjacent to conventional cemeteries. They will create a comprehensive land use plan that will provide a solid foundation on which to build.
Please consider making a donation now! All donations are tax deductible. Make checks to Driftless Green Burial Alliance, 500 E Jefferson St, Room 202 Viroqua, WI 54665.
Future site of the Viroqua Cemetery natural burial ground.
Contact us to learn how you can join our initiative and /or if you are interested in learning more about green or natural burial in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin. We have a 30 minute presentation that we would gladly share with you and your organization or community group.
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