Back in the summer of 1991 I visited Europe and specifically, Germany, for the first time in my life. There are a couple of things that I remember vividly from that experience. First of all, I remember being served bottled water at dinner and then being charged for it. Back home we were always afforded a “glass of water” with unlimited refills. I can remember thinking, “This bottled water deal has got to be a money maker. No one would ever pay for this in the U.S.” Now, I want you to understand, that thought came from a person who about 30 years later buys a 24-pack of water about every other day!!!
The other thing I remember seeing that I had never seen before was “Community vegetable gardens” in local parks. Families and individuals, who maybe lived in a metropolitan apartment, could raise their own fresh vegetables on public land in rented spaces. Most of the time these spaces were in a portion of a public park and you could see both the area and the individual gardens partitioned off.
Public vegetable gardens have become somewhat popular in America now also. However – not until yesterday when I saw this article in the Huntington, West Virginia Herald-Dispatch – did I ever think about or associate them with being located in cemeteries. The article deals with the Spring Hill Cemetery and what is known as the Spring Hill Garden Cemetery. This cemetery has one of the oldest and longest-running community gardens in West Virginia as it was started back in the 1970s.
For a $30 annual fee gardeners can seasonally rent a 30 foot by 15 foot garden plot. According to the article, plots will be available as soon as suitable weather allows and plots must be maintained through October 31 when the season is scheduled to tentatively end.
We have had numerous articles about how small cemeteries have faced revenue declines as casketed burial numbers have declined. However, I am constantly reminded that this is America. . . . somebody will eventually find a way to make a dollar. Is this something that might fit into your community cemetery revenue pie?