CORVALLIS, Ore. - Holiday trees have become a little bit greener with a new sustainability program for Christmas tree farms.
The trees bear a tag identifying their origin as a Socially and Environmentally Responsible Farm (SERF). So far, five Oregon tree farms have signed up, including Sunrise Tree Farm in Philomath and Whitewater Ranch in Leaburg.
“A SERF-certified tree assures you that this real tree is grown using the best and safest methods known,” said Chal Landgren, Christmas Tree Specialist and Professor with the Oregon State University Extension Center. Landgren helped create the certification program.
To be certified, a farm must develop a plan for all their operations addressing five areas of social and environmental health: biodiversity, soil and water resources, integrated pest management, worker health and safety, and consumer and community relations.
OSU Extension provides training and support to growers in developing their sustainability plans, the Oregon Department of Agriculture conducts independent inspections of the farm, and the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Growers Association provides the final certification approval.
Grown on sustainable farms, Christmas trees are cultivated just like other crops; growers plant one or more to replace every tree they harvest.
Among the argued benefits of sustainable Christmas tree farms:
- They absorb carbon dioxide and produce life-giving oxygen.
- They don’t threaten natural forests.
- They provide wildlife habitat and rural scenery.
- They’re grown by family farmers.
- They support local economies.
- They can be recycled and turned into mulch or compost, so no waste goes into landfills.
And they smell great; even the cleverest artificial tree can’t perfume the house with that wholesome fragrance.