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Valley Conservation Cemetery Project Advances with Support from Donor Mary Ann Cofrin

conservation cemetery landscape

Kestrel Land Trust and its partner, Green Burial Massachusetts are excited to share that we are working together to create something unique in our region: The Valley Conservation Cemetery. This non-profit cemetery will offer individuals and families a simple, natural, and final resting place memorialized in nature. Aligned with environmental values and practices, the green cemetery will be located on conserved land, providing a sustainable alternative to conventional burial.

Kestrel and our partners are grateful to Mary Ann Cofrin for providing seed funding for the start-up and development of the Valley Conservation Cemetery Project. This unique effort combines the permanent protection of a beautiful parcel of land with the establishment of a natural cemetery for green burial, inspired by examples of conservation cemeteries established in other states across the country.

Here’s why Mary Ann cares about this effort:

“I never wanted to be ‘buried.’ I thought the idea of my body in the ground, entombed was creepy. All of that changed a couple of years ago when my mother, who is in her nineties, decided

Mary Ann Cofrin
Mary Ann Cofrin at Manatee Springs in Florida. Mary Ann is providing vital funding to create a Valley Conservation Cemetery.

she wanted to be buried at Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery, in Gainesville, Florida. I grew up in Gainesville and when she announced this, several family members joined my mom for a tour. Interestingly, the cemetery land was once owned by friends of my parents and at one point it had been the home for a number of exotic animals. Unfortunately, the animals destroyed the natural fauna of the land. The conservation cemetery restored the property back to all native Florida plants and wildlife; it is strikingly beautiful.

I was so impressed with Prairie Creek that I immediately started researching where in the Northeast I could be buried, having spent most of my adult life in Ithaca NY, Western Massachusetts and now Coastal RI.

Long story short, my research brought me to Kestrel Land Trust, and my beloved Pioneer Valley where I raised two daughters and spent almost 20 years. I was so excited to find that Kestrel had considered the possibility with Green Burial Massachusetts, which has been working, long and hard on this effort already! So I offered to help fund this effort—to support all the work that has been done; and to bring the seed of the idea into the reality of creating a conservation cemetery in the Valley.

In 2019-2020, Kestrel Land Trust established a team with Land Matters and Green Burial Massachusetts to create an operating plan, search for land and begin to reach out to partners and invite public participation.

With climate change issues and so many struggles in land and water conservation, I believe green cemeteries truly bring ‘life’ back to the land. I can’t think of a better final resting place.”


Learn more about the project by viewing the recording of the Valley Conservation Cemetery informational webinar below:


If you are interested in joining our mailing list, volunteering, or donating to the project, please go to the Valley Conservation Cemetery website to let us know how you would like to get involved. You can also use this form to tell us if you or someone you know has available land that might be a good fit for the project. 

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