Unique, Local Cemetery Addition

Nestled on the southwest side of the Greencastle, Forest Hill Cemetery is home to an emerging pollinator habitat. A collaboration between the City of Greencastle, Quail Forever, and Putnam County Soil and Water allowed the blossoming habitat to take off.

After the demolition of the Bowman Gymnasium on DePauw University’s campus, the rubble was dumped onto the site that is now the pollinator habitat. The debris prevented the cemetery from utilizing the area for future gravesites. After sitting desolate, an opportunity for a pollinator habitat presented itself. Preliminary planning meetings took place with Quail Forever in 2018. Backed by the mayor of Greencastle, the project moved along quickly, and by the end of the first year, it had exceeded expectations with the blooming of annuals. As time passed, biennials and perennials also emerged.

The beautiful sites of these flowers have gained the attention of many residents. Jason Keeney, the Superintendent of Forest Hill Cemetery, shared that he has a few regulars who walk through the paths in the habitat daily. The area has also become a favorite for senior portraits and wildlife photographers. Attention has also been drawn from those visiting the cemetery as it offers a quiet, relaxing place to walk and reminisce on the memories of their loved ones.

Just three years in, the project has drawn the attention of people and animals. Keeney noted that he had seen an increase in deer, coyotes, and birds. Animals such as foxes and pheasants, which are not typical for the area, have also been spotted. Furthermore, more than eleven species of butterflies and moths have been identified within the pollinator habitat.

As maintenance is minimal, the benefits of the pollinator habitat are seemingly endless. Free for everyone to enjoy, flowers are spread across graves as bouquets or simply enjoyed by children. Serving as the president of the Putnam County Master Gardener Association in addition to his position at Forest Hill Cemetery, Jason Keeney is pleased with the addition of another green space that offers a unique and rejuvenating experience.