Lucies Farm Learns it's not Easy Being "Green"

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"It's not easy being green," says cattle breeder Craig Walsh who, with wife Marjorie owns Lucies Farm Ltd, one of the U.K.'s premier sources for Japanese-style Scottish | Kobe beef . The Walshes are petitioning the planners at the Malvern Hills District Council to approve a "change of use" for their property for permission to create Lord's Wood -- a 'green' burial park.(http://www.luciesfarm.com)

The Walshes are petitioning the planners at the Malvern Hills District Council to approve a "change of use" for their property for permission to create Lord's Wood -- a 'green' burial park.

The plan to convert a private wood at Colletts Green in Powick, near Worcester, into Lord's Wood has raised health and safety concerns among some area residents. "A few people were quite vocal at a recent planning meeting," says Walsh, "but I think if they had the facts their opinions would be quite different." He hopes that an ad campaign aimed at area residents will dispel misinformation and generate support for the burial park.

The complete planning application and experts' reports can be viewed at http://www.luciesfarm.com/green --- and comments can be added on the internet forum.

U.K. Leads the World

Great Britain is at the forefront of the global green movement, Walsh says, noting that there are over 200 green cemeteries in the U.K. versus only a handful in the U.S. Yet even though the movement is growing rapidly, "there is still a tremendous amount of confusion about just what green burial really is," he says.

The concept of a green burial, says Walsh, is "natural simplicity." He is quick to point out that there is no embalming. "That means nothing toxic or chemical is used that could get into the ground." Fabric burial shrouds or simple, biodegradable coffins take the place of caskets made of metal. An additional key distinction is that green burial parks do not permit the use of concrete liners or vaults.

"The concrete in liners prevents the ground above the coffin from settling naturally," explains Walsh whose dedication to preserving the integrity of the landscape is evident. Guided by advice from the Forestry Commission and consultant geologists, he says he is confident there would be no risk of spoiling the wood or polluting any water courses and plans to educate people with an ad campaign in the Worcester Evening News and the Malvern Gazette.

Death and Renewal

Walsh believes that green burial grounds are "a valuable way for farmers and local authorities to encourage the preservation of wildlife habitats and forests" where native trees, wild flowers and animals are protected. "A portion of money paid for burial plots would be ploughed back into the woodland," he says which will ensure the longevity of the area and its natural inhabitants.

"Green burial grounds allow butterfly colonies, grasshoppers, insects, bats, voles and owls to multiply," says Walsh. And rather than an unnatural landscape of carefully manicured cemetery grounds, "native plants and wildflowers are allowed to flourish," giving the burial ground new "life" as a nature preserve.

"People take comfort in knowing the bodies of their loved ones will decompose and become part of the 'circle of life,'" says Walsh. "And although it will be a place of death in some ways, of course, Lord's Wood will always be a self-renewing habitat for living things."

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Craig W Walsh
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