It seems more and more people are thinking about natural burial. As we continue to lean into gratitude for life (all life) and acceptance that our time here is finite, more and more people are choosing conservation burial as their departing gift to this planet. Thank you for being a part of the Greensprings community. Read on for information on what we've been up to in the past few months and our upcoming plans. As always, we welcome you to visit and enjoy this place of natural marvels, quietude and serenity.

In gratitude,

Michelle and Jen

"I am forever grateful, I was touched by the whole service, and how it merged so easily with nature. I had no idea what to expect.  Everything was gentle, smooth, organized, but not in a rigid way." 

"A Monarch butterfly joined all of us, and sat on the ground. It almost seemed symbolic that her spirit was with us, and was also free at last.
I thank you for being a huge part of all that happened, in a very gracious way. I wanted to thank you for being a part of this whole environment, and the beliefs behind it. Admirable. It is truly a treasured resource that is a blessing to all who want to be a part of it, whether living or not."
- an excerpt from a recent letter to Jennifer Johnson, our Burial Coordinator

The Hearts of Greensprings

Jennifer Johnson has been part of Greensprings since its inception. As the Burial Coordinator she assists in all manner of burial concerns including tours, general inquiries, choosing a site and lovingly overseeing all aspects of burials. This spring we hired Michelle Menter, Burial Co-Coordinator to learn from and assist Jen in this work. You can reach either of them at

Recommended Listening

The TED Talk, What's Wrong With the Way We Bury Our Dead, by Caitlin Doughty does a phenomenal job of explaining burial practices from historical, cultural and ecological perspectives with emphasis on the need to move toward natural burial out of love for our planet and ourselves.

Upcoming Events

Talking About Death Won't Kill You   
--It can help  you make informed decisions about end-of-life plans for yourself and others!

Join us and please tell you friends—Saturday, November 3, 2:00-4:00 pm, The Space@Greenstar, 700 W. Buffalo Street, Ithaca (enter on Court St. at N. Fulton)—to develop the practical know-how needed to plan well for the end of life. The format is open, so drop by for a few minutes or stay for two hours.

Staff from local organizations can help you explore: 

  • advance directives: health care proxies & living wills

  • accessing palliative care

  • hospice care

  • wills & trusts

  • organ donation

  • funeral planning

  • green burial

Facebook Event Link

Brought to you by The Art of Dying Well, Cayuga Medical Center, Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, Funeral Consumers Alliance of the Finger Lakes, Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve, Hospicare, Human Services Coalition, Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, Visiting Nurse Service of Ithaca

Greenery Day

December 8th 11am-2pm
Evergreen boughs of wild Norway spruce, red pine and white pine will be available. Maybe some "Charlie Brown trees" too! Enjoy warm drinks and snacks. Come prepared for walking in snow if we have any. Everything is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. Please check our website in November for more details. We hope to see you at this fun annual event!

Greensprings in the News

Thanks to the efforts of the Greensprings Board of Directors, we've been named a Certified Living Wage Employer, click the link for the full article. 

"While Greensprings emphasizes death with dignity, it also endeavors to provide its employees with lives of dignity by going far above New York State’s wage floor to pay them each a Living Wage. This approach benefits Greensprings by making it competitive in attracting excellent employees. In addition to ensuring the economic security of its workforce, Greensprings seeks to advance economic justice by minimizing the costs of burials to ensure accessibility across classes. Its holistic ethos promoting environmental, social, and economic justice is certainly rare among private sector employers." 

-Tompkins County Workers' Center, September 12, 2018

President's Report

Progress and Appeal  -   Support Our Growth

2018 has seen the culmination of planning for a lot of improvements at Greensprings. Chief among them was the hiring of Michelle Menter as Burial Co-Coordinator. She has brought a great deal of energy, ideas and joy to the organization.

The deteriorating farmhouse, purchased along with 30 acres of land a few years ago, was demolished. The approach to Greensprings will now be greatly improved. Unfortunately, the demolition and removal proved much more expensive than anticipated (over $20,000). Donations for restoring the cemetery's fund balance would be much appreciated. In addition, three old sheds and unneeded fences have been removed.

The sale of 5 acres of land that Greensprings will likely never use to a non-profit pet cemetery is still in the implementation stage, awaiting state approvals. It is thought the pet cemetery and Greensprings will be mutually supportive.

This spring a test plot of 4 acres was plowed and seeded to improve pollinator habitat. The next phase of tree removal to promote grassland bird species and pollinators like Monarch butterflies and to make the land available for burial area expansion has begun. We plan to plant 75 trees and bushes to help pollinators and improve the appearance of the grounds. In September we completed preliminary work thanks to help from Chris Galantino of Cornell's Interfraternity Council and Greek community members Michael, Andrew, Austin, Alejandro, Raymond and Tyler. 

Still to be done is the roofing repair to the outbuildings near the cottage. One of the buildings has a serious leak and board replacement is needed on both the cottage and the outbuildings. Our wooden survey markers, which guide burials and help people find specific graves, are now over 10 years old and in poor condition. It has been difficult to find an upgrade, since metal and plastic markers are problematic and new wooden ones are very labor-intensive. 

On the financial side, our treasurer, Joanne James, has negotiated much more favorable terms for our insurance coverage. In order to try to at least keep pace with inflation, the board of trustees decided to invest $70,000 of our required permanent maintenance fund in seven years of Treasuries, then decide each year whether to re-invest or seek new opportunities such as social choice mutual funds.

In sum, this has been a very active and successful year for Greensprings.  Come see the improvements!

Herb Engman
President, Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve