Continuing on from last post with the idea of combining life and death by creating multi-functional funeral and cemetery spaces (art shows in funeral homes, concerts in cemeteries) here is a photograph from the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta, Romania. While I was definitely struck by the artistic, colorful and sometimes very humorous grave markers which depict scenes from the deceased persons life (more on that in a minute), what really got my attention was the grave plantings on the left, which look a lot like dill and lavender.
And that brings me to a question that's been on my mind lately: with urban sprawl in full swing and available cemetery space in decline, is it possible to combine cemeteries and community gardens, using the "grave beds" of the deceased for plantings that provide food?
I know it's a bit of a radical idea (google has not a thing on it) and when I mention it to people they usually start off with a great big eeeewwww, that is geee-ross with a capital G, but is it? Is it gross? and if so then why? I know what I am proposing is against all cemetery rules, but stay with me in my imaginary world for just a second.
Now I'm not a botanist or horticulturist, in fact most plants don't survive past their infant years under my care, but it would seem that the only real gross here is purely psychological. There is six feet of earth between a buried body, which is most likely in a container of some sort, and the top soil. That seems like quite a big distance, one that should quell the fears of 'decomposition contamination' theorists.
I mean, would a tomato vine and some zucchini on Grandpa Max really be all that bad? And think of all the people without enough farmable, urban land in which to grow food? I think Grandpa Max would be more than happy to help.
Even though I am far away from my parent's actual grave and can only hope to make it there once a year if that, I absolutely love the idea that the earth above could be providing a community with sustenance while turning a rather empty and lonely landscape into one brimming with people: families gardening together; neighbors meeting one another. So once the thrill of calling out funny names and old dates with your friends wears off, think of all the fun you could be having cultivating the soil on top of all our dearly departed.
Now onto these amazing little grave marker gems courtesy of Romania:
By the look on this chaps face I think the drink might ave' gotten him in the end.
It's the Romanian Gertrude Stein having a picnic.
Was that the end? Smushed by a car?