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Sustainable Christmas trees sprouting up

By Paul Epstein and Alison Hawkes, Bay Nature

In the past, a consumer had mainly two choices: real or artificial. Another voice has joined the debate over the "best" Christmas tree. "Sustainable" trees have hit holiday stands to become a viable option for green consumers.

But what does the label "sustainable" mean and are these trees worth the premium price?

The most trustworthy of sustainably grown trees are akin to organic produce. Farmers have to go through an independent certification process to meet environmental standards that are designed to protect the land, water, and local wildlife.

Several organizations on the West Coast offer certification. SERF – Socially and Environmentally Responsible Farms – is a project of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with the Oregon State University Extension. Farmers submit a sustainability plan and are visited by inspectors from the Department of Agriculture.

Farms may also join the Coalition of Environmentally Conscious Growers, a group of Christmas tree farmers who hope to imprint more standards on the “sustainable” label. They require applicants to submit to an independent auditing process with on-site farm inspections.

There's a reason for the growing market in sustainably grown trees. Conventional tree farming typically involves the use fertilizers and pesticides, and monoculture cropping practices can be detrimental to the local ecology.

Read the complete story at Bay Nature.