Forest Rest Natural Cemetery becomes certified as only hybrid cemetery in Virginia

Only natural burial between Lexington, VA and Raleigh, NC

By Irisha Jones - Reporter

Boones Mill -  A southwest Virginia cemetery offers options for everyone when it comes to their final resting place.      Forest Rest Cemetery was recently certified as the only natural burial cemetery in Virginia.

The location is nestled in the woods in Franklin County and offers a peaceful yet natural or "green" burial.     

Don Wilson developed the cemetery in 2012. 

"Green burials involve basically no burial vault or embalming. That's how it differs from traditional burials,” Wilson said. 

This type of burial consists of placing the body in a biodegradable casket such as wood or wicker. The body is usually wrapped in a shroud before then.

"A linen shroud is a kind of large sheet that wraps the body and it has handles to help lower the body into the grave," said Wilson. 

Well-known Roanoke Times columnist Joe Kennedy is buried there, according to Wilson. ​​​​​​

"He wrote a column for the Roanoke Times called 'A Cuppa  Joe.' Joe was going to be cremated, and he heard a presentation about Forest Rest and changed his mind."

Interred in 2014, he was the first person to have a green burial in Forest Rest. 

The site is the only green burial option between Lexington, Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina.

As a recently accredited hybrid cemetery and the only one in Virginia, Wilson says it's a less expensive option than cremation and traditional burials. 

"There's a lot of fossil fuels that go in to the cremation process and here that is all eliminated. The body goes right into the Earth and back to the Earth just like it was 150 years ago,” Wilson said. 

This idea is growing on people who want to keep it simple. ​​​​​

"We've had three or four burials here in this section this year, and we sold four times as many burials as we have for people who are preplanning," Wilson said. 

To learn more about Forest Rest, click here

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