Heritage Gardens Cemetery is family-owned and changing hearts and minds about the role a cemetery plays in the community.
The bees are buzzing, flowers are blooming and Stan the caretaker putters in his garden, creating a warm backdrop for loved ones’ final resting places.
“Sustainability depends on each of us contributing our unique skills to a bigger picture,” says Trevor Crean, owner and general manager of Heritage Gardens. “We have proven that even a cemetery can be eco-friendly, socially minded and make a positive impact on the community.”
Heritage Gardens is the first cemetery certified by the Green Burial Society of Canada in Metro Vancouver. It provides eco-friendly memorial options that cannot be found any where else.
“In every cemetery in the city, they say this is what you get,” Crean says. “Here, we ask what would you like to have? What will be meaningful for you and your loved ones moving forward?”
Heritage Gardens promotes green burial, interring the deceased directly into the soil. This keeps with what major religions—Christianity, Judaism and Islam—have been practising since day one.
“It also appeals to those individuals who are conscious of what they are putting into the earth,” Crean says. “People like the idea of a simple hand-made casket or shroud, laid to rest on cedar boughs and covered with soil. Cremated remains can be placed in a niche wall or mixed in with the soil and have a memorial tree planted nearby.”
Undeveloped areas of the grounds are left to grow wild into pollinator meadows for Heritage Gardens’ beehive program. “This April, we will install six honeybee colonies and one or two with mason bees, in response to sponsorships from our families,” Crean says. “We wanted to provide meaningful memorialization options—something that resonates with the values of their loved one.”
Families receive the honey from the hives to distribute to friends and family with a personalized label: ‘from Grandpa Jack’s Bees at Heritage Gardens.’
“It’s a reason to want to come back and visit,” Crean says. “We believe that the loss of a loved one is the beginning of a new relationship with their memory, and we try to make that as positive as possible.”
On an area reserved for a future building, nothing goes to waste. “We are farming that land,” Crean says. “We have grown and given away over 500 lbs of veggies, over 100 lbs of natural unpasteurized honey, and we support the Surrey Foodbank and Cloverdale Community Kitchen with everything our visitors or clients can’t take.”