Duck Run Cemetery

A couple of weeks ago I had the honor of visiting Duck Run Cemetery in Penn Laird, Virginia. Duck Run is a natural burial cemetery, which means bodies are buried either unembalmed or embalmed with Green Burial Council certified chemicals and then buried in plain, biodegradable caskets or burial shrouds. 

The view from the top of the hill. Photo by Anna Rutenbeck.

The view from the top of the hill. Photo by Anna Rutenbeck.

Duck Run was totally beautiful and unlike any other cemetery I've visited. In talking with the cemetery director, Glenn Jenelle, I learned a lot about his cemetery and his mission with the cemetery. Glenn is trying to create a beautiful place, and he's done a wonderful job. There's a landscaping plan for Duck Run which includes entirely edible plants. 

Flowers in the scattering garden, an area for people to scatter cremated remains. Photo by Anna Rutenbeck.

Flowers in the scattering garden, an area for people to scatter cremated remains. Photo by Anna Rutenbeck.

Glenn stocks the pond with fish for fishing, raises ducks, hosts birding groups, and camping trips for boy scouts. Glenn's goal is to create a place for the community. He doesn't want people to be afraid of or "creeped out" by cemeteries. 

Glenn and I had a chance to talk about natural burial and death acceptance as he drove me around the grounds of the cemetery on his gator. People are afraid of death and don't want to think about it, which prevents them from thinking about their post-mortem plans. I think people should think about their plans. 

Duck Run Cemetery is owned by Kyger Funeral Home, which owns two funeral homes in the area (one in Harrisonburg and one in Elkton). The president of Kyger, Kenny, says that him and Glenn were inspired to open Duck Run after listening to their clientele. People wanted an option other than traditional burial or cremation, so Kenny and Glenn listened. They opened Duck Run in 2012, and they've done a beautiful job. 

Natural burial cemeteries are growing in popularity, in part because of the health and environmental risks of formaldehyde. In this post, I'm including a video from one of my favorite YouTubers about the risks of formaldehyde. 

More Photos from Duck Run