Green burial is coming to Alva Municipal Cemetery


March 26, 2023

The Alva Municipal Cemetery may soon have a “green” burial site. Cemetery Board Chairman Lenny Reed told the Alva City Council Monday that the cemetery has begun the process for green burial. They plan to designate Block 22, the furthest northwest section of the cemetery, as the green burial site.

“If you go green, you don’t have to have a vault; you don’t have to have a coffin. They don’t have to embalm you if you are buried within 12 to 24 hours,” said Reed. “We’ve had citizens who have asked to be buried in that short period of time so they won’t be embalmed. It is to allow the body to decompose and go back into nature.” Reed added that families will be allowed to place a headstone in the green section, although some cemeteries don’t allow this. At those locations they will provide a GPS location to the family members.

A 2017 survey by the National Funeral Directors Association found that more than half of respondents (53.8 percent) expressed their intent for eco-friendly burial options. Most burials before the mid-19th century were conducted this way, and many traditions still call for it. The reasons for selecting this type of burial vary from person to person, but the major motivations for this type of service are:

• Cost-savings. Green burials are typically cheaper than traditional burials because you don’t need to purchase a traditional casket.

• Environmentally friendly. They have less of an impact on the environment because of the materials used.

• Spiritual significance. Many people feel a special connection with nature. This approach allows the deceased to return to the earth naturally.

According to US Funerals Online, there are at least two cemeteries in Oklahoma already offering green burial. Green Haven Cemetery in Stillwater is considered a natural burial site, a designated green burial cemetery. Woodland Memorial Park in Sand Springs is a hybrid, a standard cemetery that has adopted a section as a designated green burial area. Reed said in the ten years they have been open, the Stillwater cemetery has had 25 people buried there.

Arden Chaffee, a member of the Alva Cemetery Board, is very interested in moving forward with the green burial section. He is obtaining copies of cemetery policies for green burial. Reed said they will likely have a special meeting in April on the topic.

Improving Leased Ground

Reed also reported a request by the leaseholder for improving land owned by the cemetery. The land is located in Alfalfa County and was donated to the Alva cemetery. It is leased for agriculture purposes. Reed said Mr. Hada “would like $16,000 for us to pay for putting the lime into the soil.” He said he’s not a farmer so doesn’t understand the process.

Cemetery Sexton Chris Greve who was in the audience added that none of the cemetery board members are farmers.

Councilmember Randy Stelling said he was familiar with Hada’s request. He described a soil testing grid system that would show pH levels (acidity) in a precise manner. Then lime can be applied precisely using GPS coordinates to balance the soil. This can cost less because less lime will be used.

Mayor Kelly Parker noted that if the cemetery board proceeds on the request, they should “make sure they adhere to the terms of the lease agreement.”


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