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301 Tennessee Valley Road Mill Valley, CA 94941
Copyright 2011. Fernwood Cemetery FD# 1281
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Fernwood is one of the country’s first environmentally conscious green cemeteries where land stewardship and restoration is integrated with cemetery and burial ritual.  Green, or natural, burial here means no embalming or chemicals of any kind, no grave-liners or vaults and only biodegradable burial containers such as a plain pine box, wicker casket or a fabric shroud.

As part of our land stewardship we do not allow traditional cut and polished headstones or bronze markers but a small natural boulder can be engraved and used as a marker.  Some families choose simply to blend into the hillside allowing each tree, flower, songbird and butterfly to become a memorial to a loved one and a hope for the future.  Fernwood is a consecrated place where the living and the dead are connected through cycles of nature, memory and conservation.

In a synergistic blend, we use both a simple nature based approach as well as the latest technology.  Each grave is mapped using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and every burial is marked with an identification device to ensure their loved ones can find their location.  Our commitment is to save natural resources and preserve native plants and animals.  As a National Wildlife Federation Certified Habitat our landscape provides food, water, cover and places for our native animals to raise their young.

The beautiful 32-acre Fernwood site is located in Mill Valley, California, adjacent to the golden Gate national Recreation Area and just minutes from Mt. Tamalpais State Park with easy access from Highway 101.

The land at Fernwood is comprised of a patchwork of grassland, brush, mixed forests, and riparian drainages.  It is a dynamic environment of rapidly changing weather exposed to fog, winds and sun, seasonal rain, and dry summers.

The land is hilly and located on the shaded north slope of a long ridge that extends from uplifted marine terraces known as the Marin Headlands.  The cemetery lands drain toward the salt-water marsh of Tennessee Valley and Coyote Creek meanders along the base of the mountain.

We invite you to visit us, meet with a member of our team, and take a guided walk around Fernwood.  Please call for an appointment 415.383.7100.


Gan Yarok (meaning green garden) was consecrated in 2010 as a part of Fernwood Cemetery.  It is America’s first Jewish green cemetery and incorporates three sections:  Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform/Renewal.  The principles guiding Gan Yarok were established by the founding rabbis of the cemetery, representing all streams of modern Judaism.

As an environmentally conscious green cemetery, graves are hand-dug; no liners are allowed; caskets are optional, but, if used, must be biodegradable.  Markers, if chosen, must be natural boulders and engraved simply.  As part of the overall Fernwood land restoration plan, landscaping in Gan Yarok is allowed to follow the natural cycles of the seasons and native California plants are encouraged.

Gan Yarok incorporates the values of the green movement while maintaining Jewish traditions of burial and honoring our loved ones.  In the words of Rabbi Judah Dardik of Congregation Beth Jacob, “We are making a natural spot the holiest place that a rested body can have”.

In addition to the green cemetery, Fernwood’s Remembrance Room is a contemporary space for funerals and memorials and is so constructed that Gan Yarok members can allow Kohanim to attend funerals conducted there without violating any halachic principles.


Fernwood Cemetery has existed here since the late 1800s.  Silent gravesites are reminders of the pioneers who worked on dairy farms and ranches early in California history.  As a few gravestones of members of the fraternal benefits society, Woodmen of the World say, ”dum tacet clamet” – or “though silent he speaks”.  The old cemetery graves are surrounded by heritage oak and bay trees that have witnessed 120 years of history.

With a beautiful view of Mt. Tamalpais, historic Fernwood is a fitting resting place for those who desire a more conventional approach to burial.  A limited number of gravesites are available in the historic section of the cemetery.  Embalming, any type of casket, and cut-and-polished headstones as well as bronze markers are allowed in this part of the cemetery.

We invite you to visit us, meet with a member of our team, and take a guided walk around Fernwood.  Please call for an appointment 415.383.7100.


In addition to our focus on creating a place where burial rituals are interwoven with land restoration, Fernwood is also a full service funeral home and crematory offering a variety of modern and traditional options to serve our community.  We welcome people from all religious and spiritual traditions, including one entirely your own.

A memorial service, one of the most sacred events any of us will prepare, takes much thought and consideration.  Our Remembrance Room is an open, peaceful, contemporary space with a view of our beautiful patio waterfall.  It is suitable for many different services from religious ceremonies to Circles of Friends to catered receptions.  Each individual is invited to bring creativity and personal vision to this place.

Our compassionate and caring staff will assist you in creating a meaningful and beautiful ceremony for your loved one. We are dedicated to assisting you in giving expression to the richness and particular beauty of a life that was like none other.


For those seeking an alternative to burial, Fernwood has a full service onsite crematory.  Our state-of-the-art facility has the most advanced equipment available to help reduce environmental contaminants as well as a ceremonial space for family and friends to gather if they wish.

Whether you’re looking for a simple direct cremation, an observed cremation or a memorial service in our Remembrance Room, our compassionate and caring staff will help you explore ways to create whatever is appropriate for you and your loved one.

Fernwood offers a variety of memorialization options for cremated remains including boulder niches with views of Mt. Tamalpais, wall niches, three scattering gardens and cremation burial locations.


MONTH OF October
Melva Luree Jordan Backer Cooper Backer
Visitation: Inurnment
Services: Meeting at Room of Remembrance in Main Building at Noon