Local Legends: John Christian Phifer + Larkspur Conservation

People 10.05.21

We make it a point to go off-the-beaten path on our travels. Those unexpected moments and experiences are often the highlight of our trip…even if it seems a little dark at first. As we enter the spooky month of Halloween, it seems a fitting time to share our conversation with John Christian Phifer of Larkspur Conservation at Taylor Hollow — 45 miles northeast of Nashville. 

On paper, Larkspur Conservation is a burial ground but if you’re looking for a macabre ghost tour, we’re sorry to lead you on. The first of its kind in Tennessee, this 112-acre property is equal parts nature preserve with native wildflowers and hiking trails, as well as a final resting ground dedicated to earth-friendly burial practices.

Founded in 2013 by our friend John Christian Phifer, visitors can hike, birdwatch, study nature, and connect with death in new ways in a living space. After spending over a decade in the funeral industry, Phifer was inspired to create a more mindful and environmentally-friendly way to address end-of-life care. This historic practice of natural burial eliminates the use of embalming chemicals, plastics, metals and concrete.

 As he told our Chief Impact Officer, Kerry Docherty, “In our sterilization and in our formalities, we’ve gotten away from the simple beautiful aspects of life that are so important.” Death, paradoxically, is a part of that even though “in America it has always been scary and not talked about.” When families choose a natural burial at Taylor Hollow — whether in the wildflower meadow or amongst the tulip poplars in the woodland — they’re contributing to a living memorial. A green space for the community to enjoy in mindful recreation.

Turns out it’s not so spooky at all. Tune in for Chief Impact Officer, Kerry Docherty's intimate interview with John Christian on-site at Larkspur Conservation this past July. 

 To learn more, check out larkspurconservation.org

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