Christmas trees get greener with new certification
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
A new program in Oregon will identify Christmas trees coming from environmentally friendly farms.
A new sustainability program for Christmas trees, developed in part by the Oregon State University Extension Service, debuted this season.
For the first time, consumers can buy trees identified as the product of a Socially and Environmentally Responsible Farm.
"A SERF-certified tree assures you that this real tree is grown using the best and safest methods known," said Chal Landgren, a Christmas tree specialist with OSU Extension, in a press release.
To be certified, a farm must develop a plan for all of its 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.
So far five farms in Oregon have been certified.
Oregon is the leading producer of holiday trees in the U.S. The state's growers sold 6.4 million trees in 2010, grossing $91 million, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. About 1,600 operations cultivated 57,000 acres in Oregon last year and employed nearly 8,000 full-time and seasonal workers. The trees are shipped around the world.
The new certification program requires that Christmas tree farms:
- Protect natural features, waterways, fish and wildlife habitat, and ensure that workers and equipment minimize harm to biodiversity.
- Use appropriate, nontoxic methods to control insects, weeds, diseases and other pests.
- Create a safe environment for all workers.
- Use practices that prevent soil erosion and mitigate potential negative impact on water quality.
- Foster farm stewardship and environmental education in the community and with industry groups to conserve natural resources.
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