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Business insight: Joseph Sharp

Real vs. artificial Christmas trees
– Dawn House
Salt Lake Tribune

Joseph Sharp, president of Yule Tree Farms in Canby, Ore., oversees the harvesting of more than 3,800 acres of trees.

Are real trees making a comeback?

Over the past few years, Christmas tree prices have stabilized and although there are competitive prices in certain areas, the toughest competitor to the American-grown tree is the Chinese-made artificial tree. Additionally, real trees are ecologically better than fake, and consumers are becoming aware of this. Approximately 30 million to 35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the country every year.

Don’t artificial trees take pressure off land dumps?

Real trees are biodegradable, and an increasing number are mulched and used as compost or used to prevent beach and stream erosion. Artificial Christmas trees, with their average life of four years, will survive in a landfill for hundreds of years. On top of that, they can often contain lead dust, PVC and insects, and are not environmentally friendly.

What about the sale of real trees and deforestation?

Real trees are sustainable and are actually the best choice for the environment. The trees are grown on farmland just like other row crops such as corn, grain or berries. For every tree harvested, at least one other is planted in its place. A new organization, the Coalition of Environmentally Conscious Growers, is certifying growers who are environmentally responsible.

Explain the coalition.

Founded by Yule Tree Farms and Holiday Tree Farms in August, the Coalition of Environmentally Conscious Growers is a not-for-profit 501(c)(6). It is dedicated to sustainable growing practices and consumer education. Coinciding with its formation was the creation of a Grower’s Certification audited by Freer Consulting, an independent party based in Seattle. The first of its kind, the certification evaluates growers on erosion control/soil conservation, integrated pest management and tributary protection. Additionally, the organization has developed hang tags to mark trees that have been certified as having been grown under stringent environmental criteria. More than 200,000 [Oregon] trees will bear the tags this year, and about a dozen other farms are on the certification waiting list from states such as Michigan and North Carolina.

For more information on the coalition, visit www. christmastreeoregon.com/cecg.html.

Public Relations Contact: Rosica Strategic Public Relations