THE CONSERVATION COMMISSION of the TOWN OF HALIFAX
P.O. BOX 127, WEST HALIFAX, VT 05358
Conservation Commission Approved Meeting Minutes
Thursday, May 27, 2021 at 6:30 PM
Meeting on Zoom (Location: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/7814490827 or call +19292056099,,7814490827#)
Attendees: Stephan Chait (Chair; SC), Dov Towler (Member; DT), Linda Huebner (Treasurer; LH), Laurel Copeland (Clerk; LC), Lesley Pollitt (LP), Mary Horne (MH), David Erickson (DE), Linda Lyon (LL), Michael Pollitt (MP).
Unable to attend: Jess Cooney (Member; JC)
CALL TO ORDER at 6:32 pm
CHANGES AND/OR ADDITIONS TO AGENDA – none
APPROVAL OF PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES
April 22, 2021 Regular Meeting Minutes – approved.
Composting waste food workshop in Halifax – SC attended a Food Composting workshop at Windham Solid Waste Management District on May 15th, which provided helpful and useful information about composting equipment and how to compost food waste without attracting animals to the composting location. Having a similar workshop in Halifax over the summer was discussed. SC will contact Windham Solid Waste Management District. PC commented that most people are likely interested in home composting rather than a town site.
Green Burials Presentation and Discussion – Penfield Chester spoke on green burials. Her father inspired her interest in green burial as he is a conservationist and an advocate for animals and wildlife. Then after a hospice client of hers died at home, PC attended the ceremony at the deceased’s home where family and neighbors helped bury the coffin on her land. PC commented on the connection with the grieving process in engaging in a green burial, and how her participation in this burial provided her with experiential learning. Green burial is about taking care of the dead with minimal environmental impact, getting away from steel and lead coffins and from embalming. Embalming is designed to preserve the dead person’s looks but increases risk of cancers for the embalmer. Many coffins are made with exotic and distant woods as well. Cremation creates carbon emissions. The location of a green burial can integrate sustainable plantings and wildlife. Memorial markers tend to be smaller and natural (e.g., field stones). In West Brattleboro there is a hybrid cemetery with a green burial section in the back. There is less mowing in that section (mowing often uses fossil fuel). Guilford Catholic church offers green burial. Any cemetery not engaged in big mowing or pesticide operations might be likely to offer green burial. Some places are self-described as offering green burial but are for cremains only so not technically green burial; however, it is a way to conserve land. Lee Webster is a green burial advocate who has started some organizations and is a good source of information. She and PC have had meetings with Vermont Land Trust to discuss how preserved lands could be used for green burial. Green burial includes minimal disturbance of the land, and Vermont allows burial at lesser depth, 3.5 feet with 18-inch smell barrier.
Q&A: SC: how healthy is the human body for animals to eat, considering the medicines we take? PC: research suggests the breakdown occurs mostly in the soil where water helps dissipate the chemicals [large animals do not eat the buried bodies; beetles and microbes do]. Green burial cemeteries report no animals digging up bodies. It takes about 6 weeks to disintegrate the majority of soft tissue. Well-drained soil is best as this allows for aerobic decay followed by anaerobic decay, resulting in rich compost. Burial cannot occur close to water, property lines, or in swamps. In some areas, a shroud is sufficient or a willow basket instead of a solid coffin. MP asked how soon after death the body should be put in the ground? PC said as long as the body is kept cold, decay will be minimal. She knows of a case where the body was held for 3 days so family could say good-bye. Chiller strips can be frozen and placed around the body. PC has some articles of interest, covering the science behind green burial; legal aspects of home burials; how to open, close and maintain a green burial; and conservation aspects of green burial. Higher Ground at Manitou in Newfane is close to being designated a green burial cemetery. DE asked about cost differential. PC said home burials are significantly less expensive. Some funeral directors are willing to help you with burial on home property. You do have to have graves marked and registered with the town. You cannot be buried on someone else’s property unless that property is registered as a cemetery. If people have more questions, please refer them to PC (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Lee Webster, of the Green Burial Council (email@example.com).
Beavers Educational Flyer – Logistics. SC will pursue this and report next month. DT said he was happy to help fold and such. Others want to help, too.
Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles (EV) – Ford has developed an all-electric Ford 150 EV, their most popular pickup. Let’s hope this makes EV popular!
Green-up Day 2021 May 1 – Results next month. DE commented on the most popular trash we picked up (beer and hard iced tea bottles/cans). LL wrote a message to her representatives asking why unit-packed water/still drink bottles had no deposit; no one wrote back. Others should write, too. LH said Vermont tried to expand the bottle deposit bill and encountered a lot of resistance from the beverage companies. Information about Vermont’s bottle bill is online:
OTHER BUSINESS – DT asked whether we were meeting in person next month. SC thought that was possible. He favors the hybrid (in-person + Zoom) model.
Transition from LH to LP. Once the 5-member SB meets and appoints LP, then LH can step down.
HEARING OF VISITORS – none.
ADJOURNMENT at 7:35pm.