Oh Christmas tree, how organic are your branches?

The Brooklyn Paper
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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,]. 9 am–9 pm daily through Dec. 24, $10 per-foot.

Updated 5:37 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mickey Shea from Greenpoint says:
Seriously, who the fuq cares? You gonna eat the tree?
Dec. 6, 2012, 8:39 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Organic uses too much water.
Dec. 6, 2012, 9:53 am
mike from GP says:

Do you drink water, eat food? Then you should care.
Dec. 6, 2012, 3:04 pm
Mickey Shea from Greenpoint says:
Please explain.
The tree is essentially a short term, disposable item that
will be discarded....
Dec. 6, 2012, 4:22 pm
Pat I. from 70's Brooklyn says:
Mickey, you philistine! Don't you realize that it's all about organics these days?

Not for nothing but don't trees act as a filter for all of the crap in the air? if so then there's no such thing as an organic tree.

Trees help cleanse the air by intercepting airborne particles and absorbing such pollutants as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.

Breathe away, Sock puppets!
Dec. 6, 2012, 5:26 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
and as a tree disintegrates (or it's leaves for that matter) it releases CO2.

Join hands now and sing "THE CIRCLE OF LIFE"

But then you can't grow a tree or a rooftop corn crop without CO2.

This carbon based life form thanks you!
Dec. 6, 2012, 5:41 pm
mike from GP says:
Okayyy. The Brooklyn Paper has some weird commenters, seemingly disinterested in the world, and focused on their own repressed issues.
Dec. 6, 2012, 11:48 pm
Steve from Erie, PA says:
Mike, you are a terrible comment poster.
Dec. 7, 2012, 2:39 pm
Monsanto from Downtown Brooklyn says:
Organic Christmas trees... wow! Let's grow a tree, cut it down - kill it - then take it to Brooklyn where little Noah and Melissa can buy it for 6 times its real worth, all in the interest of being earth friendly... Newsflash! Unless you plan on eating it, once the sucker is dead, it doesn't really matter how it was grown does it? People are so stupid anymore. This is marketing hype! The new lemming is an organic solder in skinny jeans and clothing my sisters wore as 8 year olds, and they call normal people conformists.
Dec. 8, 2012, 11:30 am
ty from pps says:
Does someone really have to say the obvious?! You guys are seriously ignorant.

An organically grown tree is one in which harmful pesticides and synthetic fertilizers are not use. This means that these chemicals are not introduced to the environment, to soak into the ground, seep into the water table and pollute lakes and rivers.

The direct consumption of these chemicals on food is only ONE aspect of 'traditionally' grown agricultural products.

Have you heard of organic cotton clothing? You're not eating t-shirts and pants either. That's not the point.
Dec. 8, 2012, 6:49 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Ahh, the point! To make you feel good about yourself, and better then everyone else.

Seems to be working!
Dec. 8, 2012, 8:08 pm
ty from pps says:
Or -- If that's my goal... what's yours? Just to be cranky and to say dumb things?
Dec. 9, 2012, Noon

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