For us, “growing green” has a number of meanings. Many are not aware that choosing a freshly cut, natural tree is one of the best things you can do for your Christmas holiday. Not only are they more beautiful and have a lovely, festive aroma, but real trees capture carbon and help to keep our air clean. And if you buy from a local grower, you limit the carbon footprint required to get your tree to your home. Fake trees, while looking a bit more “natural” in recent years, are still made of plastic, largely come from places far away where they are manufactured, such as China, and will inevitably end up in a landfill where they will not decompose, and thus have a much larger negative impact on our climate and environment.
Being mindful of our environmental impact, we have been among the very earliest adopters of a number of sustainable practices in our farming. For instance, in May of 2006 we sold the insecticide sprayer and haven’t looked back. We have been at the leading edge in Christmas tree agriculture in the Pacific NW in our use beneficial insects to control unwanted pests such as aphids, mites, and the like. Some of the bugs we have applied over the years include Lady Bugs, Green Lacewings and Praying Mantis. Another essential part of our process includes pollinators. By this we mean BEES! We have bee hives brought in every summer. The bees feed on the honeydew left behind by the aphids, which helps to keep our trees clean. They also enjoy the multitude of flowers we have all over the farm.
Another sustainable practice is our use of low-growing cover crops between the tree rows rather than using chemical sprays to eliminate weeds. This helps in a number of ways. It minimizes weeds. It sustains tree and soil health by adding nutrients and limiting erosion. It creates habitat for beneficial insects and also helps retain moisture so the soil doesn’t dry out and the trees stay hydrated. In our changing, warming climate in the Pacific NW we have seen firsthand how this has helped limit seedling and tree mortality.
We also use Biodiesel in all our trucks and farm equipment. We were early adopters of this practice more than 20 years ago.
Lastly, we understand as with any crop farming the potential dangers of monoculture. Our trees rely on a healthy and diverse ecosystem to thrive. We grow both Noble and Nordman fir not only because those are popular with customers, but because our farm’s elevation is a more natural zone for them, so in this way we work with nature and not against it. We also plant selectively based on the topography of our land, placing Nordman in the lower, wetter areas because they handle excess moisture better. Every detail about what to plant when and where is thought through carefully to maximize the health of our trees — it matters to us a lot that our customers enjoy the best quality Christmas trees available. But it is equally important to us that we are good stewards of our land and provide the best habitat possible for the trees, plants, wildlife, soil, air, and water systems that we share.