Info for Funeral Directors
If you need to schedule a burial, please call our burial coordinator, Jennifer Johnson, at 607-329-2279. If she isn’t available, call our executive director, Joel Rabinowitz, at 607-279-7393. Note: burials should begin no later than 2 p.m.
A. Basic requirements
Green burial means that everything going into the ground must be biodegradable. We don’t accept embalmed or chemically preserved bodies. (Call us regarding exceptional circumstances.) The deceased’s clothing should be made of natural fibers such as cotton, silk, or wool. Keep bodies cold before bringing them to Greensprings (and during long transports), whether via refrigeration, dry ice, or ice packs. We suggest you use vans instead of hearses. We prefer that families not bring wreaths on metal stands or flowers in plastic containers; these should be removed by the burial party. Loose bouquets are fine, ideally placed over the casket or shroud before closing the grave. (Even cut flowers left on the burial mound can go to seed, introducing nonnative species to Greensprings.)
New York State requires that a licensed funeral director be present when a body is buried at a cemetery. Therefore, funeral directors most show a photo ID and their funeral director’s certificate with registration number before we will accept a body for burial at Greensprings.
Acceptable containers include:
- Plain, untreated and unvarnished wooden caskets, including Jewish caskets—caskets should not be made of “rainforest hardwoods” or other nonnative woods
- Cardboard, paper-mache, wicker
- Homemade coffins (must not exceed standard casket dimensions)
Greensprings encourages shrouding as an alternative to burial in a container. Shrouded bodies must be entirely wrapped head to toe and be supported on a solid board for lowering, which you provide. Plywood and particle support boards aren’t acceptable. There is a new trundle (underboard), approved by the Green Burial Council, which we will accept. It measures 78″ x 25″, is well-made and has rope carrying handles. We will no longer accept unfinished doors, as they are not of solid wood.
D. Clothing and footwear for burial parties
Greensprings is on a hilltop, often cooler and windier than nearby valleys. We suggest people dress as if they’re going on a hike, noting that the terrain is uneven in places and dress shoes are impractical. Sometimes winter burials are accompanied by sideways-blowing snow, so we stress wearing extra layers of warm clothing in cold weather. (We check weather reports ahead of time.) Usually we have a chance to speak with someone in the family, but we appreciate you mentioning this as well—we want everyone to be comfortable.
E. Your arrival at Greensprings
We’ll have talked about arrival times beforehand and will have someone at the entrance to greet you. You’ll meet with our burial coordinator to take care of paperwork while our staff greet families and friends. Most NYS funeral homes bring the body delivery receipt, but we have copies on hand if you need them. Normally families pay Greensprings directly for the burial site but pay you for our open-close fee, for which you’ll reimburse us.
After the business side is finished, we’ll help as needed in moving the deceased from your vehicle to our “pallbearers friend,” a sturdy, attractive, yet lightweight all-terrain transport cart. Families are welcome to help.
F. The burial
We’ll coach families and friends in moving the body to the gravesite. Often the family holds a graveside service or ceremony. When they finish, we show them how to lower the body into the grave with our staff helping as needed. Shovels are on hand for those who want to place a token shovelful of earth in the grave.
While our backhoe contractor closes most graves, some burial parties wish to close the grave themselves. We need to know ahead of time—this commitment takes a good deal of time and energy. A Greensprings staffer will stay until the grave is completely filled.
We do everything possible to make this a good experience for you and the families you serve. Please don’t hesitate to call us with your questions. We look forward to meeting you.