Local Group Seeks to Create Natural Cemetery

Ozark Natural Cemetery is a small group of Howell County residents who are seeking to create a natural, perpetual use cemetery in the local area. 
Member Jim Vokac stopped by the Howell County News office on September 25 to discuss the group’s motivations, plans, and progress. 
According to Vokac, progress had been slow due to the coronavirus pandemic. The group began with a small meeting of only eight people in early 2020. Subsequent meetings have proved to have increased attendance, and a survey the group handed out at the West Plains Home and Garden show returned more than 30 positive responses. 
A natural cemetery is one in which human remains are buried without embalming fluid, wooden caskets, or concrete vaults. Rather, the body is shrouded in a readily biodegradable covering and lowered directly into the ground within days of death. 
Vokac said the benefit to a natural burial is not only a drastically reduced cost compared to conventional burial methods, but that it also has significant benefits for the environment. 
“There is none of the energy needed for cremation, no embalming,” Vokac said, “There is less upkeep in the cemetery itself, no tall headstones.”
The group’s vision does not include engraved headstones, but rather a flat stone or native plant that will give the cemetery a more park-like appearance. 
Choice of location is clearly of the utmost importance for a cemetery such as this, ideally a level location that will not contaminate groundwater. The group is currently seeking land for this purpose in Howell County. 
To those who might find the idea of a natural burial distasteful, Vokac offered, “Being buried in the ground is not going to cause other people problems…What kind of legacy do you want to leave, a big tombstone? Then, this isn’t for you. But, if you want to contribute to saving resources and not destroying the earth as much, gathering to remember family in cemeteries is not lost by having a natural cemetery.”
For more information, email ozarknc20@gmail.com.
by Amanda Mendez, publisher


Howell County News

110 W. Main St.,
Willow Springs, MO 65793

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