Green Cemetery for Natural Burial
Fernwood is one of the country’s first environmentally conscious green cemeteries, where land stewardship and restoration are integrated with natural burial ritual.
Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fernwood is one of the only natural burial and green burial cemeteries in the state of California. The rolling hills of our grounds include both forest and meadow burial sites, many with views of Mount Tamalpais and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
What is a Green Burial or Natural Burial?
Green burial or natural burial involves no embalming fluid such as formaldehyde or toxic chemicals of any kind, making a grave liner and vault unnecessary. Instead, the body is allowed to recycle naturally back to the earth. As a full service cemetery and funeral home, Fernwood provides both full body natural burial and cremation options in the green area of our cemetery. We allow only biodegradable containers for our environmentally friendly burial services with green caskets, such as natural wood or wicker, fabric shrouds or wood cremation containers. All of our services are thoughtfully provided to lessen our carbon footprint and impact on the environment.
GREEN BURIAL VS. TRADITIONAL BURIAL: What Are the Differences?
There are many important differentiations to make between traditional burials and green burials, especially if you or your loved ones are dedicated environmentalists. Traditional burials are known to use chemicals such as formaldehyde during embalming. These chemicals can leach into the ground, causing the earth below to become toxic. Traditional burials are typically done in a coffin that is fastened together with metal screws, fasteners, and other hardware, making them non-biodegradable. Because of this, the land occupied by the coffin cannot be resettled or shared.
By contrast, green burials are an eco-friendly option. Green burials are typically performed within days of the passing of a loved one so that formaldehyde isn’t necessary. Because no toxic chemicals are used for embalming the earth surrounding the deceased remains clean and healthy. As green burials opt for burial shrouds or natural, sustainably sourced containers made of wicker or wood, they are fully biodegradable. In fact, a natural burial will replenish and enrich the earth in which your loved one is placed. If you’re wanting to celebrate the life of your loved one in a manner that reflects their passions and ideals, a green burial is the right choice for you.
Natural Burial Boulder grave markers
As part of our land stewardship, graves at Fernwood are dug by hand, and natural burial sites are not marked with traditional cut and polished headstones or bronze markers. Instead, a small, natural boulder can be engraved and used as a marker. Some families choose to simply allow their loved one’s grave site to blend into the natural environment – where every tree, flower, songbird and butterfly becomes a living memorial. We map each grave using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and mark every burial site with an identification device to ensure that a family can always find their loved one’s location on our land.
National Wildlife Federation Certified Habitat
As a National Wildlife Federation Certified Habitat, our green cemetery provides a sustainable habitat for wildlife to live and raise their young. Our hillsides are blanketed with heritage oak and bay laurel trees, towering over ferns and native grasses. Songbirds, squirrels, deer, and even a bobcat or two have chosen to make Fernwood their permanent home.
Click to view Fernwood Cemetery’s traditional burial options.
Cremation Space: Prices starting from $5,900
Green Burial Space: Prices starting from $16,900
Click here to see our plans and pricing.
Sites for Green Burial
The Restoration of Fernwood’s Coastal Prairie. Memorial Interpretation: High density of wild flowers provides a seed bank for surrounding lands and habitat for butterflies, also the eradication of broom and other invasive species. Natural burial graves are nestled into a hillside with views down Tennessee Valley and hiking trails into Founders’ Forest and Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
The Restoration of Fernwood’s Coastal Prairie. Memorial Interpretation: High density of wild flowers provides a seed bank for surrounding lands and habitat for butterflies. On-going eradication of broom and other invasive species. Natural burial graves are nestled into a hillside with views of Mount Tamalpais with hiking trails into the Ancestral Forest.
Memorial Interpretation: The Founders’ Forest burial sites represent the pre-restoration of an Oak woodland with the removal of invasive Eucalyptus Trees and other invasive species. Oak trees overhead provide a calm and shady resting place.
This green burial space exists in this tranquil wooded area of Fernwood. A meandering trail makes its way through the trees starting from the pioneer section heading towards the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Rich soil provides a blanket of soft grass for burial plots.
Cremation spaces only exist on this hillside meadow at Fernwood. A rustic trail leads from Upper Meadow to Golden Gate. Natural resources and sprawling land allow for a calm, quiet resting place.
Please note: this area is not easily accessible.
This easily accessible area defines the boundary between the historic cemetery and the natural burial areas. These hillsides are being restored to natural grasslands with scattered Oak and Bay trees as the Eucalyptus are gradually removed. Founders Transition features sweeping views of Tennessee Valley and Mt. Tamalpais.
Premium location area on a grassy knoll. Magnificent views of Mt. Tamalpais and Golden Gate National Recreation Area invite serenity and peace for graveside services.
Family estate area situated above the Fernwood historic cemetery with views of Mt. Tamalpais. Resplendent oak and bay trees provide shade for funeral and burial arrangements.
Cremation spaces only exist at this highest point on the grounds. Bordered by forests, this meadow affords magnificent views of the valley below and the adjacent Golden Gate National Recreation area.
Please note: this area is not easily accessible.
gan yarok expansion
Gan Yarok Expansion is a natural burial ground within Fernwood and located on a hillside meadow reached by a meandering trail through the Ancestral Forest. It was consecrated in 2010 as the first Jewish green cemetery. Gan Yarok is furthering the values and ideals of the green burial movement by “making a natural spot, the holiest place that a resting body can have” (Rabbi Judah Dardik). Orthodox, Conservative and Community sections within Gan Yarok each carry specific burial rules and regulations. Our natural burials can be tailored to your specific beliefs.