The Glendale Memorial Nature Preserve is a 350-acre eco-friendly “green” cemetery in Glendale, Florida, that was chartered in 2002 and is maintained by two brothers and local farmers, John and Bill Wilkerson.

Located about 10 miles north of DeFuniak Springs on U.S. Highway 83, the driveway is marked on both sides with giant missile domes bought from a military surplus store for about $75 in the ‘90s. Driving past the property on the highway, you can also see a 100-foot historic fire tower and massive metal sculptures nestled in the brush.

John Wilkerson created more than 20 metal creatures he calls “Rustasauruses.” Dotted across the preserve, each is unique and made from old machinery and recycled metals and parts.

Every sculpture comes with its own name and backstory. Visitors can view the sculptures at any time, but scheduled tours are also available. To ensure a spot, call ahead due to limited availability.


While there are trails and boardwalks created to navigate burial sites, visitors can also enjoy the serene environment of the longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem and bamboo forests. About 80 percent of the land parcel remains undeveloped, preserving the natural flora.

Before they founded Glendale Memorial Nature Preserve, the Wilkerson brothers worked on the family farm growing a crop called chufa, a favorite plant for natural wildlife.

To keep the 350-acre farm intact and preserve the family legacy, the brothers decided to start a nonprofit and founded GMNP to preserve the land forevermore as a cemetery.

The brothers aim to protect their land while also honoring the lives of the people and pets who are no longer with us. With environmental values at the heart of GMNP, efforts are made to educate people about the negative environmental effects of traditional burials and offer services to reduce the amount of chemicals and materials that are buried in the ground each year.

To help minimize materials and toxic chemicals used in burials, the cemetery offers burials without vaults, embalming chemicals and unnecessary expensive procedures.

At GMNP, all caskets must be biodegradable and made from wood or cardboard, but shrouds or a favorite blanket are also good options.

Handmade caskets are produced onsite from lumber sourced from the preserve. Wilkerson transforms the lumber into planks with his old-fashioned sawmill, a machine he put together himself, which runs off a 1967 Chevy engine.

Grave markers are also handmade onsite, produced from recycled scraps of metal. Each grave is required to have an aluminum marker with the name of the deceased, birth and death date and a brass marker that shows the direction a person’s head faces. These markers are roughly the size of a baseball and are attached to a rod that sticks out of the ground.

Landmarks like the outdoor chapel and a historic 100-foot fire tower are easy-to-find locations throughout the property. The chapel serves as a multi-functional building that can be used for weddings, community services and get-togethers.

Visitors are welcome to walk the grounds at any time and enjoy the trails, boardwalks, lakes and tranquil environment. Scheduled tours of the property allow you to learn about the unique backstory of each “Rustasaurus” sculpture. For more information about Glendale Memorial Nature Preserve, please visit


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