I’ve been collecting ideas on the holiday I identify with to some extent: Christmas. This morning I called a local organic farmer in Putnam County, NY and told him that I was having trouble finding a source for organic Christmas trees. Online I found plenty of articles and suggestions that people buy an organic tree. What I didn’t find was place to get one. So I did some calling. I called the organizer of the Westchester Farmer’s Markets and found out that their one organic Christmas tree grower would not be supplying them this year. I called lots of local nurseries and tree sellers and not only did I get a unanimous “No” on organic trees, most of them had never even heard of that alternative.
The farmer had a lot to say on this. “Even if a tree were organically grown, I get irritated about the netting and the plastic wrapping. The tree is already netted or wrapped when it was received and then the wrap cut off and thrown out and then it gets re-wrapped when sold! This is such a waste and it ends up in landfills or wrapped around some bird’s neck! The Christmas tree industry is a huge waste generator, never mind the herbicides, fungicides and insecticides used by most growers. If you are going to buy a tree, the least you can do is ask them not to net it.”
He also mentioned that decorative sprays, fire retardants and tinsel makes your tree uncompostable or toxic to compost, so please don’t use them.
His favorite suggestion regarding trees is to buy a balled live tree, and then plant it. Most places that sell them also give information on care. He says live trees save waste, and at the same time would help repopulate the Northeast with evergreens. The evergreens, as opposed to the deciduous trees, make great places for birds to nest in the winter.
He says he just read an article on landscape design for reducing energy consumption. The article suggested planting evergreens on the northern side of house in shape of arrow which sends fifty percent of the wind around the house, thereby reducing energy costs! This sort of planning and planting can be a real family bonding experience. “Think of it as a sort of family memorial ceremony. As the kids grow up, the trees grow up with them. They can look back and say, that tree was from 2008, when I was five!”
After I hung up the phone with him I started calling Christmas tree growers and sellers. What I found convinced me never again to buy a Christmas tree unless I know how it was grown and transported. I talked to growers who told me there is no way to grow trees without insecticides (which is simply not true). I talked to a grower who uses Roundup and told me that that is common practice. I talked to local sellers who know nothing about the practices of the farms they buy their trees from. I did find a some good news. There are some regional organic christmas tree producers, some that use very limited amounts of chemical applications, and some nurseries that carry live trees, though these are not organically grown.
Here is the list of what I’ve found so far. If you find another source, please comment below by clicking the ‘comment’ link following the article.
Regional Organic and Pesticide Free Cut Christmas Trees
Warrups Farm, Certified Organic, Redding, CT If you are searching for a Certified Organic Christmas tree (a popular request!) we have found your place! Cut your own or they will cut for you. The trees have a “natural” shape and are not shaped like store-bought trees, but that offers more places to hang ornaments from. Trees range from 4′ to 20′ with most of them in the upper range. The prices range from $25 to about $100. Its best to call first so they can direct you to the grove of trees best suited to your needs. 203-938-9403. http://www.warrupsfarm.com/ourseasons.html
Wilkens Farm in Yorktown Heights is selling Christmas trees. They do not use Roundup (they mow) and they do not use insecticides. You can choose and cut your own, and reduce waste by bringing your own twine and blankets to wrap the tree. They do use a fungicide in the spring. Link: http://www.wilkensfarm.com/.
Cascade Farm at 124 Harmony Rd. Patterson, NY 12563. Phone: (845) 878-3258 is selling Christmas trees they bought from a farm in Vermont that hasn’t used any pesticides or herbicides in years. They are not certified organic, but they say they generally don’t need to use these type of products and will let customers know in years they might find it necessary. http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M14011
Blooming Hill Farm in Blooming Grove NY, about an hour’s drive, has organically grown trees and what looks like fantastic wreath making classes using wild foraged greenery. http://www.bloominghillfarm.com/ 845/782-7310. Organic Christmas trees you choose, we cut. Family-run working organic farm. Fresh wreaths daily with wild evergreens.
If you feel like a weekend drive to Vermont, I found a certified organic christmas tree producer in Westminster, Harlow Farms,117 Deep Root Drive,Westminster, VT 05158.
Regional Live Trees
The Lewisboro Garden Center has live balled trees in various sizes. They are on Rte 123 in South Salem. 533-2713.
Katonah Evergreen Nursery also has some live balled trees.
I’ve done some online surfing for tips on making your holidays a greener in some simple ways: