Step by step
Making Earth Funerals a reality has been a step by step process, combining careful planning with the ability to recognise emerging opportunities. By aligning ourselves with key strategic, legislative, environmental and conservation partners, and receiving generous philanthropic support along the way, we’ve made significant progress towards ensuring genuine natural burials become a real and viable option across Australia.
The timeline below shows where we’ve been and where we’re going, highlighting our key milestones and future targets.
A chance meeting with the CEO of environmental charity Starfish Initiatives occurred when Kevin Hartley hosted a community screening of the independent film 'A Will for the Woods'. The film, about the natural burial movement in the US, sparked a conversation and the initial concept for Earth Funerals was born.
The First Grounds
The land for Australia’s first restorative natural burial ground came as a generous donation from permaculturists Ray South and Jane Pickard, co-owners of Banded Bee Farm, west of Armidale in NSW. Funding from the burial ground will be used to begin restoration of the vegetation along the Saumarez Creek.
Armidale Tree Group (ATG) is an environmental not-for-profit that’s been operating since 1983. When ATG’s ecologist Dave Carr recognised the potential of the project to fund the restoration of the 54km wildlife corridor along the Saumarez Creek, the organisation pledged their ongoing support.
Pro Bono Partnership
We knew that to establish Earth Funerals nation-wide, we would need some solid legal expertise. So we reached out to Australia’s largest law firm, HWL Ebsworth, and were elated when they offered to partner with us. Since then, they have provided essential advice and guidance in support of our vision.
Raising Seed Capital
For Earth Funerals to develop further, we needed to move to the next level and seek seed capital. Our initial target was surpassed, with almost $70,000 being received from generous individual and corporate donors, including members of the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN).
Gathering Partners and Strategic Alliances
We attracted supporters and consultants from across Australia, including Eco Logical Australia, EcoGeoSpatial, and Ground Truth. A team of volunteers from one of Australia's premier accounting firms made valuable contributions to national planning, and strategic alliances were established with key environmental partners in Victoria and South Australia.
Focusing on Melbourne
Having laid the groundwork for the regional prototype in New England, project director, Kevin Hartley, relocated to Melbourne to focus on developing the first metropolitan operation. Since then, we appointed the Earth Funerals founding Board, started assessing a donor burial ground site, and planned for mortuary facilities.
Final Steps to Launch
We are currently seeking funding to establish our national operating platform, develop Victoria’s first stand-alone natural burial ground and launch Earth Funerals’ first metropolitan operation in Melbourne.
Following our Melbourne launch, we anticipate 2021 will see the first regional model underway in the New England region of NSW, and the metropolitan model replicated in a second capital city in 2021-22. By 2025, we’ll have established Earth Funerals operations nationally, and will continue the expansion of our restoration burial ground network.
Our current focus
Over the next twelve months we’re aiming to commence trade in Melbourne and continue the development of our first metropolitan natural burial ground. For this to occur, we need the continued support of our partners and to secure donations to fund the launch. We invite philanthropists and social entrepreneurs to get in touch to be part of the emerging Earth Funerals story.