Green alternative for funerals coming to Lafayette

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LAFAYETTE, Colo. - A natural funeral home, offering green alternatives for the end of life, plans to open its doors in Old Town Lafayette in June.

“It`s the first of its kind in Colorado,” said Prescott Knock, with The Natural Funeral: Living Arts Center. “We are offering a completely natural, green approach to end of life, and the full support system,” he said.

The owners will offer pine wood caskets, or simple silk shrouds for burial, and there will be no embalming. “We believe that the embalming process is quite rigorous on the body, really unnecessary, and it’s very toxic,” Knock said.

Plus, they will support families who want to participate in the care, washing and dressing of the body. “We will have a space where they can participate, to the degree that they want to,” said Karen Van Vuuren, a co-owner.

The site will have a small chapel that can accommodate about 20 people. It will have a community center, plus counseling and educational services. The owners say the price will be about half of a typical funeral.

Many residents are supportive. “Current burial practices are so unfriendly to the environment,” said Annie Savage, the woman who sold her property to the center.

But some residents question the location. The site is just off the main street that runs through the Old Town district of Lafayette that is full of shops and restaurants. “People are a little maybe 'creeped out' about it,” said Eric Gilleland. “For me, I’d rather have a nice restaurant or something.”

For some it doesn't seem to be a good mix. “They don't want it be right there where their kids play, but I think it could be kind of good to have that right there to normalize death for people,” said Barret Carpenter who works at Eats and Sweets, the restaurant next door to the site.

Lafayette’s planning commissioners have approved the plans. The center is working with area cemeteries that allow for natural burials.