One North Central Florida cemetery provides a unique option for those who have died with incentives not only for loved ones but also for the environment.
“It’s a natural cemetery with a lot of activity going on in terms of bringing the land back to a more natural state,” said Doug Hornbeck, whose mother is buried at the cemetery.
For the past 3 years, Hornbeck has spent weeks tending his mother’s grave at the cemetery.
He said he knew right from the start she wanted to be laid to rest in a special, unique place: at the top of a hill, nestled amongst mother nature.
“The ceremony included about a half-mile walk through the woods. Everybody had the option of driving to the cemetery, but actually chose to walk. One of the participants said they’d never been to a more beautiful, touching ceremony.”
Prairie Creek has offered an alternative choice to conventional burial since the cemetery opened in 2010 called conservation burial. It’s a method similar to green burial that offers benefits for the environment and the deceased’s loved ones.
Unlike conventional burial, green burial prohibits the use of concrete vaults and embalming to help preserve the body. At Prairie Creek, both cremated and full-body burials are offered. For full-body burials, the body is either wrapped in a shroud or a placed into a biodegradable coffin.
The cemetery allows people to be laid to rest on protected land, an option that no other cemetery in Florida can offer.
“A portion of the money from burials goes to support further land conservation. So, when this is totally full of bodies and tiny grave markers, it will still be a very natural area,” said Hornbeck.
According to Johnson, the cemetery has had about 150 human and pet burials since its inception. He hopes the popularity of conservation burials will continue to grow.
Prairie Creek Director Freddie Johnson said that this method of burial allows people to see the land differently.
“It’s not only about the death, but about the death and life in an entire cycle,” Johnson said.