In maintaining a pesticide-free body, a logical extension would be a chemical-free abode. While it has become quite easy to do that with cleaning products, fabrics and other materials, I have found it extremely difficult to find an organically grown Christmas tree each season. Even amidst the Hudson Valley where organic or certified naturally grown food from the small farm has become easier to find, Christmas trees grown without pesticides are a rare find. Most people don't realize that keeping a tree or other holiday greenery in the home can be potentially hazardous. Holiday greenery is commonly sprayed with over 25 different pesticides known to be dangerous to either the environment or human health.
This year's web search was successful. In Dutchess County in the town of Red Hook, New York we found Benner Tree Farm owned by Bernadette Knopfli which she maintains as a side business with the help of her 3 children and 1 year old blue Doberman Max. Though not organically certified, no pesticides whatsoever are used in killing weeds or in preventing various diseases or predators (deer and insect) from attacking the trees. Her six acre property grows Colorado blue spruce, White fir, Douglas fir and White spruce trees of different sizes and shapes. You pick the tree and cut it down yourself ensuring that you have the freshest, longest lasting tree. Bernadette tells us that she plants anywhere from 500-1000 saplings each spring.
We chose a 7 foot Colorado blue spruce which took six years to grow. This year's rains were actually beneficial to the growth of these trees even though neighboring food farms suffered, spruce trees instead suffer from droughts.
Much of the work during the year is cutting the grass around the trees constantly and Bernadette is entertaining the idea of keep a resident goat to do the work while fertilizing the trees but the big question is, do goats eat the trees?
Wherever you live, we hope you do a little investigating on your own and support any number of farms that may grow either organically or without the use of pesticides. Not only will it benefit you and your family's health, but a local organic tree is beneficial to the environment and the local economy.
Visit Benner Tree Farm and enjoy some hot apple cider from Mignorelli Farm with Bernadette and Max at 179 Benner Road, Red Hook, NY 12571.
Phone: 845-835-8220. Alternate Phone: 914-466-5722. Open: Saturday and Sundays from 9am to 5pm