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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Eco-Christmas Trees

Air Date: Week of

On Matt Haas' organic farm in Biddeford, Maine, the trees are both figuratively and literally green. Living on Earth’s Alexandra Gutierrez takes a walk with Haas to find the perfect, eco-friendly Christmas tree.


CURWOOD: Thanks to this meeting here in Bali, and its focus on the importance of trees in the fight against global warming, we may develop more mechanisms to preserve and pay for the world’s great forests. But what about all those trees—some 35 million of them, that show up in people’s homes at this time of year: the Christmas trees. Most of them simply get tossed out come January. But before they land in the landfill, some folks are feeling better about where their evergreens come from. Trees grown sustainably, without chemical fertilizers and pesticides, greener greens if you will, are doing a brisk business these days. Living on Earth’s Alexandra Guttierrez brings this audio postcard from Harecrest Acres, a tree farm in Biddeford, Maine.

HAAS: Hello, my name is Matt Haas. You’re in Biddeford, Maine, and welcome to Harecrest Acres. And this is my little place in heaven. We’re going to go get ourselves a Christmas tree. So we’ll grab ourselves a saw. We’ve got a 25-acre farm here with about a thousand Christmas trees. We have a combination of Balsam Fir, Fraser fir, and Canaan Fir. They’re all native. And they all do fairly well on this soil type. And as you can see we do it with very little impact to the earth, so it looks a little rough but no chemicals are applied and it’s all just love and care.


HAAS: Of course! Oh, that’s a good one all right. There’s a few Charlie Brown trees out here because everybody—every now and then somebody wants one.

GIRL: Do people really buy Charlie Brown Christmas trees?

HAAS: Occasionally they do, for—usually—relatives. (laughs) I give them a discount on a tree like this. That’s a one-year-old tree here. It’s only about eight inches. This one’s about a foot, and you can see by the third year once the roots get established then the tops start taking off and from there they grow quite rapidly. Who wants hot chocolate?

WOMAN: Nicky, you want some hot chocolate?

GIRL: Okay.

HAAS: Come on over!

WOMAN: You know you buy one from one of the big stores and you don’t know if it was cut down last month, and if we’re going to spend the money we would rather give it to the man down the road from us (laughs). It really was the best tree we ever had.

HAAS: I tell everybody to use their mittens. So you put your mittens on the one you think you want and then you keep looking, and then you go find another one that you like and when you run out of mittens you usually have to make a decision at that point.

GUTTIERREZ: I think this one might be the one. It looks just about the right size.

WOMAN: Oh I like it! That looks so pretty.


GUTTIERREZ: So, there’s something satisfying about cutting down your own Christmas tree?

HAAS: Yeah, they even yell timber. It’s kind of fun.

MAN: YOU guys holding it?

HAAS: I got it yeah. Ready? Everybody yell.


WOMAN: Well done. Merry Christmas!

[MUSIC: Cyrus Chestnut “Linus And Lucy, Skating & O Tannenbaum” from ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ (Atlantic records 2000)]

CURWOOD: That audio snapshot of the Harecrest Acres treefarm in Maine was crafted by Alexandra Gutierrez.



Harvest Acres


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