Author Archives: Hunter Mohring

Open House 5/21/2017

You are cordially invited to attend an Open House at The Meadow.
Sunday May 21, 2017 1:00 – 5:00 PM
Location — 130 Munger Lane off Ross Road just outside of Lexington, Virginia.

Come Early. Bring a picnic.
Bring a folding chair or blanket for your own comfort during the open house.

We look forward to answering your questions and showing you around.

Rain date is May 28th.

It’s Not Just a Hole In the Ground

Why is it so expensive to be buried?

When you learn that even the simplest of natural burials costs $1,800 for the site and $1,295 for the burial, record keeping, and continual care and maintenance of the land, it’s hard not to feel nonplussed, rattled, even dazed. After all, it’s just a hole in the ground. Actually it’s not.

Establishing The Meadow required 2 year’s time and an initial investment of $250,000. Of course there is also the value of the land to consider. Then Virginia requires an initial $50,000 contribution to the Perpetual Care Trust which will continue to grow from a portion of the income from every site sold. The income from the trust can only be used to care for the land – forever I might add.

Then there is the initial preparing of the land. Surveys marking boundaries of the cemetery, pathways, and the first burial site sections were required. Landscaping was done to urge the land toward being comforting, beautiful, and safe for people, while keeping it wild and supportive enough for native plants and animals to thrive. And then there were the legal, business, and licensing requirements any new endeavor must expect.

There’s staff training, maintenance, marketing, record keeping, equipment and on and on and on. We’re not only promising to provide you with that hole in the ground, we’ve promised that 20 or 100 years from now when your great, great, great grandchildren come to explore their ancestry, what you wanted to say about life and death will still be echoing on and through this land. Whether you choose to have a marker or not, someone representing The Meadow will be able to show them where and how you chose to be returned to the Earth.

One more thought — if you rented 80 square feet of space, how much might you expect to pay, say by-the month? I just went on line and read that a 5 x 10 ft. storage space costs between $19 and $35 dollars per month. Now doing the math in relation to the cemetery – based on an 8 x 10 site with a 50-year lease(our most expensive site) burial, and maintenance will be $6.32/month. The least expensive full-body burial would average out to $5.16/month. Frankly, that seems cheap to me.

What makes it seem expensive is that all the cost is paid up front. But on the other hand once paid, the price will never change or increase. It’s done.

So –you see – it’s not just a hole in the ground. It’s a statement about death, an investment in the land and the life dependent on it, and it’s a promise made and kept far into the future.

Perpetual and Successive Burial Sites

Natural burial practices provide us with an exceptional opportunity to express, experience, and model earth-friendly values. It recognizes our position as simply one small, fragile part of the vast expression of life. It accepts our nature-given form. It embraces the built-in opportunities to actively participate in various cycles that for billions of years have promoted, sustained, and even encouraged life to thrive – in number and variety. It allows us to see ourselves as the rose that grows and fades, as the decay, and as the compost from which the next rose will rise. It transmutes loss and grief to become our final gift to life itself.

In most cases, including The Meadow – when one purchases a burial site in a cemetery, he or she is not actually buying a piece of land. He or she is purchasing only the interment privileges of a specific piece of land. The land continues to belong to the owners of the cemetery.

In recent history, most people expect that once a burial site is occupied the deceased has precedence over any other activity or use of the land forever — perpetually. Knowing where our loved one is or we ourselves will be buried brings many of us comfort. Future family members, historians, and passing strangers may appreciate visiting a perpetual gravesite which speaks of the past and of transience.

But for those of us not particularly attached to the perceived benefits of the perpetual burial practice, The Meadow is offering an additional and even greener option: successive interment. In this case, after 50 years of decomposition, the site can be reused. Fifty years is plenty of time for nature to have taken her course. Little ─ if anything ─ of the decedent would remain. All burial records will have been kept for family and historians; markers and any remains found during the careful re-excavation of the land will be dealt with in the manner chosen by the decedent and/or his/her loved ones in the original contract designating the site as “successive.”

A successive site costs a little less. Other benefits are that a successive site produces additional income that ensures the continued maintenance of the land and its flora and fauna; and creates additional spaces for natural burials in our community without using more land ─ making this small burial ground a sustainable endeavor.

Think about it.

What would nature do?

If you are familiar with the term biomimicry, you might have noticed that at The Meadow we lean heavily upon practices very similar to those of this relatively new discipline that studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems.

Biomimicry says that if we want to consciously emulate nature’s genius, we need to look at nature differently. We need to see nature as model, measure, and mentor.

  • Nature as model: Biomimicry is a science that studies nature’s models and then emulates these forms, process, systems, and strategies to solve human problems – sustainably.
  • Nature as measure: Biomimicry uses ecological standards to judge the sustainability of our innovations.  After 3.8 billion years of evolution, nature has learned what works and what lasts.
  • Nature as mentor: Biomimicry is a new way of viewing and valuing nature.  It introduces an era based not on what we can extract from the natural world, but what we can learn from it.

At The Meadow, because our view and purposes are much narrower in scope, we tend to start with the question: “What would nature do?” And if we want to do something other than what nature would do, how can we achieve the intended purpose with the least disturbance to the impetus and expressions currently occurring in, on, and through the land?

Natural Burial Ground At Last

Our certification process is complete and The Meadow will be opening for business just outside of Lexington VA the first week of October 2014. We are very pleased to provide an opportunity for patrons to live out their dedication to environmental stewardship. We are eager to begin carring out our mission to honor and promote natural life cycles, enhance and preserve the land as habitat for native flora and fauna, and model the merits and methods of natural end-of-life practices. Please visit our site at to learn more about our progress. I look forward to posting some of my thoughts and guiding principles and to broadening my insights through interaction with readers.