Source: Blue Ridge Outdoors
Written By: Will Bahr
Published: March 2, 2023
Featured: Green Burial, Conservation Burial, Carolina Memorial Sanctuary, Warren Wilson College, Environmental Impact of Conventional Burial
As a student at Warren Wilson College in western North Carolina, Ben Gordon planted, tended, and harvested crops for the college cafeteria until he graduated in 2019. But for the past few years, his job has entailed the planting of an entirely different sort: human corpses.
Gordon is a gravedigger at the Carolina Memorial Sanctuary, a conservation burial ground just south of Asheville. The Sanctuary buries bodies in accordance with green burial practices—no embalming, no vaults, and only biodegradable caskets if one opts for a casket at all. There is also a conservation easement over its 11 acres, assuring that the Sanctuary abides by stringent ecological stipulations to preserve native biodiversity, and soil and water quality.
Gordon was tipped off to the job by one of his Warren Wilson professors and, though the work might sound morbid, his work environment is quite pleasant.