Oh Christmas tree, how organic are your branches?

Oh Christmas tree, how organic are your branches?
Community Newspaper Group / Natalie Musumeci

Christmas trees come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and hues — but are they organic?

Longtime Vermont organic tree farmers have returned to Brooklyn this holiday season and set up shop at a number of street corners throughout the borough selling only their hardiest, homegrown, chemical-free evergreens.

Each Christmas season for the past two decades, Adam Parke, along with his crew of family and friends, trucks south with thousands of fresh cut trees from his 207-acre herbicide-and-pesticide-free Windswept Farm in northeastern Vermont — but for Parke it’s no easy task to raise Christmas-tree worthy conifers with absolutely no chemicals.

“It takes a lot more care to grow organically and it takes a lot more years to get the trees to size,” said Parke outside one of his tree stands on the corner of Clinton and Kane streets in Cobble Hill. “A chemically grown Christmas tree up to seven or eight feet can be ready in seven or eight years. It takes me 10 to 12 years.”

Unless they’re specified organic, most Christmas trees are grown by conventional methods with applied fertilizers and sprayed regularly throughout the year with pesticides for various tree insects that dry needles and cause aesthetic damage to the trees.

The dedicated outdoorsman says that he mows the grass that grows beneath the 65,000 trees on his hilltop farm twice a year instead of using herbicide to reduce the grass competition — and when Parke has an insect problem he just has to accept the tree loss. For him, avoiding the toxic chemicals typically used to grow trees is about doing the right thing.

“It’s just a matter of ethics to me. It’s the way I want to treat the land and I don’t really want to have anything to sell to people that would have any pesticide residue on it,” said Parke, adding that many of his customers buy his organic holiday trees because they are allergic to the chemicals sprayed on the conventional ones.

Organic Christmas trees even last 50 percent longer than chemically grown trees, said Parke.

“They are just like a healthy person that eats well as opposed to somebody who lives on junk food,” he said.

Organic Christmas tree shoppers with young children welcomed the fact that the trees they would later decorate inside their homes are chemical-free.

“We feel a lot more comfortable having an organic tree in the house with the kids, especially since its down on their level and they’ll be touching it and putting their hands near their face and all over their toys,” said DUMBO resident, Rebecca Beirne, a mother of two.

Alongside Christmas trees Parke’s seven tree lots also sell homemade maple syrup tapped from 13,000 maple trees and custom-made Christmas wreaths.

Adam Parke Trees [Outside of 157 Montague St. near Clinton Street, 316 Clinton St. near Kane Street, 780 Union St. near Sixth Avenue, 456 16th St. near Prospect Park West, 286 Seventh Ave. near Seventh Street, and 71 Washington St. near Front Street, (347) 251–0758, www.adamparketrees.com]. 9 am–9 pm daily through Dec. 24, $10 per-foot.

Long line of trees: Vermont tree-farmer Adam Parke, who’s joined by partners Anners Johnson and Brianna Parke, has been selling organically grown Christmas trees at a number of Brooklyn locations for the past 20 years.
Community Newspaper Group / Natalie Musumeci