For $4,000, resting under a redwood for eternity

For US$3,000, Better Place Forests allows people to have their ashes scattered under redwood, tanoak and madrone tree groves.

FOLSOM, CALIFORNIA (REUTERS) - For 70-year-old Kathee Pfalmer, who grew up in the shadow of Northern California's redwood giants, nothing seemed more appropriate than eventually spending an eternity among them.

Pfalmer has arranged to have her ashes scattered near a tree in the 20-acre Point Arena Forest.

"It is one of the most beautiful, sacred things I've ever done and I think in a way, I'm giving that to my children. They won't have to worry, they'll know where I am. "

The redwood grove is owned by Better Place Forests, co-founded in 2015 by Sandy Gibson and two friends.

Gibson's parents died when he was young. They were buried in an old church cemetery near a busy street.

"I spent my life going back to their cemetery and it was never a beautiful place. And what I realised over my life is that that's the place that you think of when I think of my parents and that's not how I want to think of them, that's not how I wanted the end of their life story to end."

Now in one of Gibson's forests, for just under US$3000 (S$4,100), people can buy the right to have their ashes mixed with soil and fertiliser and spread at the base of a permanently-protected tree.

 
 
 

"By putting your ashes, and they mix it 50-50 with dirt so that it isn't shocking to the tree, you are absorbed as a nutrient into the growth of the tree and after 18 months, you're part of the tree, you're all the way to the top of the tree," said Pfalmer.

Gibson plans to open more forests in California and expand to Washington, Colorado and Arizona soon.

Fewer than 100 people have so far spread their loved-one's ashes in Better Place Forests, but like Pfalmer, thousands have reserved trees.

Pfalmer hopes her tree will be a more beautiful spot for her family to visit than a regular cemetery, and her grandson agrees.

"I like the idea of, when my grandma dies, she goes to into a tree, she gets to be one with the tree and I get to visit her and then one day I'll get to be with her," said her eight-year-old grandson Julian Fiore.