Permaculture Cemetery

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Herland Forest is different. Instead of rows of graves, you’ll find resting places that are tucked away in forest clearings. Instead of cramped burials where people are squeezed together, Herland Forest is open and vibrant with life.

growing hazel nuts among the oak trees

Located right at the point where western firs give way to eastern pines, Herland Forest is home to a diverse ecology, and we’re working to make it ever more diverse. In addition to the native fir, pine and oak, the Guardians who chose to use their remains to protect this special place from being developed, bring in other trees– such as chestnuts, hazelnuts, and ginkos. These trees increase the ability of the forest to support life.

By diversifying the forest, the memorial trees our Guardians choose help ensure that the birds, bees, and animals that come to the forest for food and shelter will find a safe and fruitful haven.  Monocultures are vulnerable where polycultures are resilient. Herland Forest’s diversity not only enriches the forest, but it helps to ensure that come what may, the forest will  continue to be a living memorial to the love that our Guardians have for nature. 

Coordinating Herland Forest’s growing diversity is a fun challenge, and it’s work that’s overseen by Herland Forest director Opalyn Brenger. After more than a year of study under permaculture pioneer Geoff Lawton, Opalyn has received her Permaculture Design Certification.

Opalyn’s Peraculture Design Certification

The challenge of creating a living, vibrant forest is endlessly fascinating. As I write, we’re heading into winter, a time when the forest sleeps and the stewards dream of the trees and flowers that we’ll plant in the coming spring.

As we see one season conclude, and anticipate the season to come, we feel a deep gratitude to the people who’ve chosen to be part of the Herland Forest, and who are helping to spread the word that something novel and worthwhile is growing here on the edge of the Cascadian wilderness–a permaculture cemetery.