#4 - Urban Farming

The Christmas Tree—Through the Fields We Go

Baling Christmas Trees in Denmark using Evergreen balers at Collet Christmas Tree Farm. Courtesy of the farm.

Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh, through the fields we go, laughing all the way, ha, ha, ha; yes, those jingle bells are ringing with the traditional Christmas holiday around the corner and farmers have been busy preparing their trees that keep oxygen flowing.

One acre of this holiday cheer produces enough oxygen for 18 people—the 69,968 acres in Canada dedicated to these beautiful pines provide oxygen for 1,260 individuals—, all while removing over 500 pounds of carbon dioxide each year—2,125 tons of CO2 from New York State Christmas tree growers.  

Harvested specifically for the holiday tradition, approximately 98% of real Christmas trees come from farms. It takes seven years to grow a two-meter Christmas tree and even eight to ten years to grow a Nordmann Fir, during which it traps CO2. Not all of the trees are cut down each year—more seedlings are planted than cut. Trees absorb water like sponges during storms and floods; an adult tree can soak up around 50 to 100 gallons, while its roots improve soil quality and prevent erosion.

As farming technology helps advance sustainability, we can begin to see how these farms are changing and contributing to our planet.

The GreenTeam Group tree plantation. Courtesy of GreenTeam.

The GreenTeam Group tree plantation. Courtesy of GreenTeam.

Investing in machinery and technology can enhance the effectiveness throughout the entire production process,” Thomas Kafton, the Trade Marketing Coordinator of GreenTeam Group, the largest and leading company in the Christmas tree business, said in an interview with AgriExpo e-Magazine.

Today their production utilizes GPS-controlled tractors in their nursery as well as specially developed cutting machines for the harvesting period.

The company has recently implemented a steaming machine that treats weeds, reducing the need for pesticides. During the soil preparation in their nursery in Denmark where the Christmas tree seeds are later sown, the machine slowly runs over the parcels, steaming the soil and treating the weeds.

Kafton from GreenTeam also explained that certifications and transparency across the entire value chain have become more important which means that consumers have the opportunity to ask for certified trees. Various certifications include ethical aspects and CSR-related subjects. For example, Green Team Group supports UN’s Global Compact, which encompasses 10 principles on human rights, labor rights, environment and anti-corruption

In this way, we are not solely focusing on the trees themselves, but also acknowledge the broader issues surrounding the entire value chain from seed to tree.”

Once the holiday season has gone, there are multiple options for the tree’s second life. It can be used as firewood, garden decor or placed in certain geographic areas to prevent erosion. In many parts of the world, there are tree recycling drop-off centers where the trees are turned into mulch and used to spruce up green spaces or added to composts. Or even better, purchase a tree with the root ball attached so the tree can be replanted!


About the Author

Erin Gigl is a freelance design and travel writer, editor and artist.

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