Michael Bishop created a cemetery when he couldn't find a simple option for burial
In Swansea you will find Dust to Dust Green Burial and Nature Reserve Cemetery and Michael Bishop who is the owner/developer. The cemetery opened in 2009, and currently approximately 150 people have been buried in 8 by 10 plots at the cemetery.
One of the biggest differences between the two is the pricing. Dust to Dust is a little cheaper, with a simple burial starting at $800, and they allow mulching on top of the grave and loved ones can leave tokens at the grave sites. You can’t do those things at Greenhaven. You can, however, plant native plants at either cemetery, and both have a list of what is acceptable. Both also use granite or natural stone for headstones.
Mr. Bishop will tell you it wasn’t easy starting his cemetery. It is also part of a preserve, which means that the land can’t be anything but a cemetery, just like Greenhaven. Currently it’s two acres large with room to expand.
For Mr. Bishop, having a green burial cemetery was a no brainer. He and his wife had looked into arrangements for themselves when they passed and were astounded by the prices. Mr. Bishop thought there must be another way. A better way. A simpler way.
That’s what started Dust to Dust.
When he first opened he said lots of funeral homes and transports didn’t want to work with him. Even the local coroners were leery. He worked to help set up a body transport service and now, after eight years, it’s gotten a bit easier.
This is not Mr. Bishop’s full-time job: his full-time job is as an environmental investigator for Clemson Regulatory Services. He's also the mayor of Springdale.
Mr. Bishop gets offers for his cemetery all the time. He won’t sell. It was part of his family’s land,and his mother lives nearby.
Turkey and deer roam the area and you can hear crowing from roosters at a neighbor’s home nestled next to the cemetery.
The entire family is involved in Dust to Dust, with Mr. Bishop, his wife, and two sons pitching in to help. It’s become a family business and one that Mr. Bishop hopes will continue.
For Mr. Bishop, he wishes he'd named his cemetery a natural burial cemetery. That's only because for him, the conservation is important, but the thing that he loves about his cemetery is that it is a more natural, simpler way to be buried. "Our ancestors did these lifetimes ago, it’s pure and simple and inexpensive," And as Mr. Bishop will tell you, “I’m cheap.”
If you want to go the way of caskets, embalming, vaults, cemetery plots, visitation, or traditional burial, that’s great if you can afford it; otherwise, he says, “you're just burying money." But if these things give you peace of mind, then that is what you should do, he adds.
Frequently, Mr. Bishop is asked to come and speak to groups about Dust to Dust or talk to families in hospice. He says, “I’m not gonna sell you, I’m just gonna tell you.”
Once folks come out to a funeral at his place in Swansea, he says, they understand.
When you're, there, you don’t hear traffic. One could say it’s quiet as a tomb, if that tomb was full of birds, deer, squirrels, and turkeys. It’s peaceful. He says that folks come out to Dust to Dust to picnic, even if they don’t have family or friends buried there.
One of his favorite stories is about a man who came to see him. The man had a $10,000 life insurance policy. He found himself at Dust to Dust because he had been to numerous funeral homes, and his life insurance policy would still not be enough to cover costs. He didn’t want to leave his family in debt burying him. So they talked, and Mr. Bishop showed him around. He told him the pricing: $800 for burial, $300 for a pine box, and money for transport. The total was $1350, which left his family about $8,700. They wouldn’t be in debt; instead, they would be taking the trip of a lifetime.
For Mr. Bishop Dust to Dust is personal. It’s not just the cemetery his family owns but it’s mostly because regulators said he couldn’t do this. His cemetery Facebook page boasts over 1,000 friends and a 4.8 rating. Mr. Bishop is quite proud of this, “what other cemetery do you know that has over 1,000 friends--a cemetery.” He knows it’s a testament to what they do.