mollie@sunnycareservices.com   |   615.358.8520 Nashville.TN

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What Do You Know About Natural Burial? An introduction to Larkspur Conservation

Updated: Aug 16, 2019


Our intention with this series is to highlight what options you have when it comes to how you would like your body cared for after your death. When I met John Christian Phifer of Larkspur Conservation, I felt like people needed to know about this amazing option for burial. If formal funerals feel a bit stuffy or traditional cemeteries are not for you, allow me introduce you to Larkspur Conservation. Larkspur offers an experience similar to being buried at Radnor Lake State Park (for those familiar in Nashville!).

Larkspur is a natural burial option for you and your loved ones in the Middle TN area. Set adjacent to the Taylor Hollow State Natural Area in Westmoreland, TN, Larkspur offers the first conservation burial ground in Tennessee, a nature preserve for natural burial. I encourage you to look at their website to see pictures of this beautiful landscape!


  • First, what does a natural burial mean? Natural burial is the practice of burying deceased remains without the use of contaminating materials such as embalming chemicals, metal, plastic, and concrete. We honor the historical method of natural burial and eliminate the unnecessary steps that are in traditional burials today.

  • What is Larkspur Conservation? Larkspur is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the stewardship of our natural environment through earth-friendly natural burial practice. So, what that means is that not only do we practice natural burial but we also offer the ability to be buried in the beautiful backdrop of nature. We are a very different kind of cemetery and different kind of burial.

  • What are some reasons why someone would choose or not choose to bury at Larkspur?

  1. Why: Our clients are typically those who are thinking mindfully about the world that they live in. They are conscious of working with nonprofit organizations as well as being respectful of their environment. Larkspur offers a place of permanence where families can come visit their lost loved ones; a place to reflect and remember in the presence of a sanctuary filled with trees, wildflowers and grassy open fields, deer, turkeys, rabbits, and more than a few squirrels. What we offer is a much more intimate way to experience loss, but we believe it is also incredibly beautiful as well. Also, because of the simplicity of our process and lack of embalming, our process is also less expensive which is a great benefit for being kinder to the environment.

  2. Why Not: Larkspur Conservation is not ideal for someone who desires a large public burial. Our burial sites are set back in nature so there is some walking and hiking involved to reach a burial site. While we do have transportation to accommodate those with mobility issues, it is difficult to accommodate many people with mobility issues in a singular burial. Most families choose to invite only immediate family and friends to the burial at Larkspur while a public memorial or celebration is generally open to everyone.

  • What is a typical cost: Our options are $1,350 for a natural burial of cremated remains or $3,700 for a whole body burial. Larkspur does not provide transportation or merchandise, that portion is handled by the funeral home of your choice.

  • What do you wish people knew about Larkspur? Larkspur’s natural burial practices are historic and we are using these practices as a tool to save land. Many people do not realize that embalming and the use of vaults are not required by law. In fact, embalming first starting during the Civil War as a way to preserve bodies during the transportation back home and vaults were used to prevent grave-robbing. Today, refrigeration (without the use of chemicals) can serve in the place of embalming.

If you are interested in meeting John Christian or learning more about Larkspur, I encourage you to reach out to him and check out their website which explains their process so well!


Thank you John Christian for sharing more about Larkspur!