Buried to come back as a fruit tree? Yes, it’s happening

Two Italian designers, Raul Bretzel and Anna Citelli, designed a concept called Capsula Mundi pod or urn. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Two Italian designers, Raul Bretzel and Anna Citelli, designed a concept called Capsula Mundi pod or urn. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Some people wish for their bodies to be buried six feet under. Others wish to be cremated so their ashes can be scattered in a special place. Then there’s a new group who wishes for their bodies to be “turned into” a tree.

Two Italian designers, Raul Bretzel and Anna Citelli, designed a concept called the Capsula Mundi pod or urn, which breaks down with the body inside to feed a tree right above.

Be it apple, orange or lemon – the tree can be chosen in life by the deceased, or by their family. Imagine your loved ones picking their favourite and taking a bite in remembrance of you!

Raul Bretzel and Anna Citelli holding an urn. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

According to its creators, the Capsula Mundi is designed to preserve one’s memory after death.

The Capsula pod, an organic casket shaped like an egg, is made out of biodegradable materials in which the body is laid down in a fetal position. Once the Capsula pod is underground, it will break down and provide nutrients to the soil and give life to a tree planted right above.

The Capsula urn works almost the same as the pod, but the body needs to be cremated first and the ashes are then placed inside the biodegradable urn. A tree is then planted to grow from the urn.

A solution to overcrowded cemeteries

On their website, the founders of Capsula Mundi say the project originates from a deep examination of the role of designers in society. 

“In a culture far removed from nature, overloaded with objects far from the needs of daily life and focus on youth, death is often dealt with as a taboo,” reads the website.

With this invention, the world will be able to solve the problem of overcrowded cemeteries, made possible by the unavailability of land, especially in urban areas, while preserving the environment. 

Inspired by life and nature, the pair designed this product to make burial to be environmentally friendly and to grow forests, rather than to cut them down for coffins.

The website further states, “As tree after tree is planted, the cemetery will become a forest, free of the architectural motifs that mark today’s memorial grounds. The cemetery will be transformed into a place of nature, where families can stroll and learn about the natural world; where communities will come together to tend and care for trees rather than to cut them down for coffins.”

Mzansi is also doing it  

Danelene Meeyer, a representative of Capsule Mundi in South Africa, says although people of Mzansi are mostly conservative, more people are opening up to the idea to be turned into a tree.

“Initially it was a strange concept, as you can understand. However, we are fortunate that even during Covid-19, people looked at life from a different perspective. The younger generation is more prone to add the biodegradable Capsula Mundi urn to their will than older generations.”

She says that the highest demand is currently from Cape Town. “I believe the Capetonians are very much aware of the environment and more open-minded. We even had pet lovers requesting urns for their beloved pets.”

Meeyer doesn’t only promote and sell the product in the country, but her family buried their father this way.

“My father was a farmer. Whatever he put his hands on, grew. For us, it was just natural to have a rose tree planted for him. I can still go to the tree daily and nurture the plant, remembering him,” Meeyer explains.

“Remember, you can plant the urn in your garden, on a farm or even in a pot, depending on the family needs.”

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