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Heartwood Preserve Conservation Cemetery & Nature Preserve

Heartwood Preserve is a special place that offers a serene environment to visitors. It is a place that brings peaceful rest for loved ones and their families as well as a source of ecological vitality and beauty. In addition to natural burial, visitors can take a walk in the woods, experience a guided tour, and be a part of our environmental and social events.

Heartwood Preserve Conservation Cemetery is the first to design a conservation cemetery within a nature preserve in the entire Tampa Bay region. We conserve and permanently protect the endangered natural habitats found here by providing environmentally-friendly burial options.

Heartwood Preserve featured on PBS:


Please join us for “Talk & Tours.” Call (727) 376-5111 for details.

Our Roots Run Deep

Laura Starkey, Founder and Executive Director, is a third-generation Floridian, born to a cattle-ranching family and raised on the very land that Heartwood Preserve now occupies. In 2006, Laura became Director of Conservation Lands, overseeing the land management of over 1,000 acres of woods on the Starkey Ranch. During that time, she developed a keen interest in finding ways to conserve natural lands while also sharing the beauty of Florida’s woods with residents and visitors. After learning about natural burial as a tool for saving land, she began the work of developing the idea into reality. Over a decade later, Heartwood Preserve is now open to the public on a corner of her family’s former land bordering the 18,000 acre Starkey Wilderness Preserve.

Why Conservation Burial?

Natural Burial is becoming a more common burial option.  It is a safe and environmentally friendly practice which is increasingly offered throughout cemeteries across the country.

At Heartwood Preserve Conservation Cemetery, the deceased is returned to the soil naturally without using embalming, vaults, or upright monuments, and markers.

Burials are placed directly into the ground, with the remains covered and mounded over with the same dirt that was removed.  Full body and cremated remains are accepted for burial. The site is then reseeded with the surrounding natural vegetation, and the land is maintained in its natural ecosystem.  The deceased can be buried with a shroud, a simple wood or other natural material casket or a biodegradable urn for cremated remains.

The grave is marked simply with a small marker and its location permanently recorded. Over time, the gravesite becomes a part of the natural environment. Families may visit the site as frequently as they like, and may memorialize their loved one in a number of ecologically friendly ways.

Stop by Heartwood’s Welcome Center and say hello.

Take a walk in the woods connecting with nature along Heartwood’s various trails and footpaths. Stay updated with us via Facebook for upcoming events such as guided tours, yoga in the preserve, Bird watching events, butterfly walks and meditation at Heartwood! Please visit our website for information and hours of operation www.heartwoodpreserve.com

Schedule a tour with Diana Sayegh, Manager, by calling (727) 376-5111 or email by clicking here. Pre-planning options are available to all.