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Christmas tree production in the United States has gone the way the rest of agriculture has gone - towards larger scale, chemical and energy intensive practices that (we believe) are not healthy for farmers, farm communities, consumers, or the environment.

We take a very different approach.

  • Our trees are chemical free, we use no synthetic fertilizers, and we never paint our trees, as is the norm the industry
  • We maintain permanent ground cover and actually manage for native plant diversity and wildlife (see especially our prairie trees page for more)
  • We minimize fossil fuel use at every stage of production
  • For our wholesale customers we deliver only fresh trees cut generally one to three days prior to delivery (as opposed to weeks for most trees)
  • We are a small family farm and sell just a few hundred trees per year

For more comparison of our production practices and characteristics with those of a typical large tree farm, click here to see our brochure. For a slightly more lengthy discussion of these practices, read an article we wrote for the co-ops and health food stores that carry our trees.

A quick note on growing "natural" trees. When cold weather comes on in the late fall (especially when it gets quite cold suddenly after having been mild), some trees - pines especially - can get a yellowish cast on the south side. This is one of the reasons most growers spray-paint their pines. We refuse to do this, and if you follow the tips provided above about cutting a new slice off the trunk and keeping your tree well supplied with water, it should green up quickly and remain that way.

Every so often we get a comment (or complaint), as do all Christmas tree growers, of a crooked trunk. Chances are that your tree is just fine, but if you are one of the lucky ones, we at least want you to know how it happens.

  •     We promote a diverse ground cover throughout our tree fields of grasses, wildflowers, and weeds. We do not broadcast herbicides as do most growers, and so competition is tough for the small trees. This can result in the main leader dying back and new one taking it's place.
  •     Certain insects can also burrow into the leader and kill the main shoot, and we do not use insecticides or fungicides (most growers do).
  •     And finally, blame the birds. Because we have such a diverse plantation, full of plants and insects, we also have a large population of nesting birds. We like it this way, but the birds also like to sit on the very tips of the trees, and sometimes break off the central leader, and then another has to take it's place. This is actually the main reason - on our farm anyway - for slightly crooked trunks when they appear.

We believe that the minimal effects all this wild life has on the trees is worth it, and we hope you agree.

Remember, Christmas trees raised in a sustainable manner are a very renewable, soil building, wildlife friendly crop. Please don't buy a plastic tree, and please don't send your tree to a landfill either. Thanks.

 

Oneota Slopes Farm contact: contact@oneotaslopes.org

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