Is Your Christmas Tree Pesticide-Free?
Updated: Nov 3
Nothing says Christmas more than the scent of a fresh cut tree, but what about trees that have been sprayed with synthetic pesticides? Tree farms commonly use fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides (usually RoundUp). Pre-cut trees are often treated with pesticides to keep them fresh while they are shipped to market.
Fortunately there are several tree farms in the Bay Area you can support that do use no or a very limited amount of synthetic pesticides. Tree farm trees are also never post treated with pesticides. Support these local farms and let them know that pesticide-free is important to you! This article focuses on farms in Sonoma County and the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Why should I care if my tree has been sprayed with pesticides?
As your tree dries out, pesticide residue can become part of the air and dust in your home. Pesticides are also detrimental to the health of our wild lands and water supplies. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, eight pesticides make up 85 percent of all uses on Christmas trees: chlorothalonil, atrazine, simazine, glyphosate, hexazinone, carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, and dimethoate. In this list, the safest chemical for human health is glyphosate (ingredient in RoundUP), and we know that's not safe! By supporting your local Christmas tree farm and telling them you care about pesticide-free trees, you help farms invest in ways to make it financially viable to invest in natural pest management.
A note on plastic trees...
Plastic trees are very toxic to us and our environment. Most contain polyvinyl chloride which is strongly linked to cancer and contaminates indoor air quality. Most artificial trees are manufactured in China, Korea, Taiwan or Hong Kong. The materials are, of course, not renewable like a fresh tree, and consist of toxic plastics, paints and metals. Artificial tree manufacturing releases a lot of poisonous toxins into the air every year. Fake trees are not recyclable nor are they biodegradable. When disposed of, artificial trees remain in the environment releasing toxins for countless generations. Did you know that the first plastic trees were modeled after toilet bowl brushes? Not very Christmas-y!
Why are there no certified organic Christmas tree farms?
It is very difficult for a Christmas tree to maintain an organic certification and there is not always a direct financial payoff. Consumers are just learning to think about pesticides when choosing their Christmas tree. The farms listed in this article are "no-spray" farms, meaning they do not generally use pesticides to grow their trees. Some of them have used herbicides in emergency scenarios, on poison oak, for example. The farms listed here have not used pesticides in recent years.
SONOMA COUNTY NO-SPRAY TREE FARMS
Little Hills Christmas Tree Farm is a family-owned 10-acre farm in Petaluma that has been in business since 1988. They do often spray herbicides in January but that is it. They do not use any fungicides. The owner, Carol, likes people to understand that tree farms create a greenbelt, providing homes to birds, owls, ravens, deer, fox, coyote, raccoons, weasels, and rabbits. Her no-pesticide farm also sequesters carbon dioxide and does not need irrigation! They also sell fir trees from a farm in Oregon that does not spray their trees with pesticides. www.littlehillschristmastree.com
Larsons Christmas Tree Farm is a longtime family-owned farm in Petaluma. They have not sprayed their trees with pesticides for many years but noted that they may do so in the future if there was a need. They also sell trees from farms in the Sierras and Oregon that do use pesticides. Larsons is only open on weekends Call: 707-762-6317 or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PetalumaChristmasTrees/
Other tree farms contacted in Sonoma County:
Garlock Tree Farm, Sebastapol -- Uses synthetic herbicides and fungicides through ~June
Frosty Mountain Tree Farm, Sebastopol --YES THEY SPRAY
Graton Fire Department Tree Farm, Graton –YES THEY SPRAY
Grandma Buddy’s Tree Farm, Sebastapol -Website indicates that they have sprayed.
Celesta Farms, Sebastapol -did not respond*
Reindeer Ridge Farm, Sebastapol - Uses synthetic herbicides and fungicides through ~May
Pronzini Ranch, Petaluma –did not respond*
*We will update this article when we receive more information.
LOS GATOS NO-SPRAY TREE FARMS (Santa Cruz Mountains)
Skyline Ranch and Lonestar Tree Farm are both owned by the same family that first opened the tree farm in 1958. Owner Donna Lucca said it used to be the norm for all tree farms to heavily spray pesticides, but they and a couple other farms stopped spraying their trees a couple decades ago. They do this by choosing to grow the right species of tree for the land. Find out which tree species each farm grows at: www.bayareachristmastreefarms.com
Black Road Christmas Tree Farms is owned and operated by Robbie Criswell, who has been caring and cultivating beautiful trees since 1966. He has over 50,000 trees and the best part is that he does not spray them with pesticides! There are picnic tables, so bring a snack and make a fun afternoon of it with the family. Robbie said that there can be a wait to get a parking space on the weekends mid-day, but is open weekdays and weekends starting the day after Thanksgiving. Find out more about hours and location at www.christmas-tree-farms.com
Patchen Christmas Tree Farm has been family-owned and operated since 1969. The owner, Jim, educates others about conservation and using integrated pest management in order to eliminate the use of pesticides. If you cannot come down to the farm to cut your own no-spray tree, they will deliver all the way up to Marin
County. They also cultivate living trees for sale. Find out more at www.patchencalifornia.com.
Four Winds Christmas Trees has been a Christmas tree farm since the 1950s. The new owners bought the farm in 2004. Although they do not mention it on their website, they confirmed via phone that they do not spray their trees. They grow a great variety, 8 types, of Christmas trees. If you go, let them know how important no-spray trees are to you and suggest that they advertise it on their website! www.four-winds-ranch.com
Additional tips for sustainable Christmas tree shopping
Forgo flocking...only unflocked trees are compostable! Flocked trees go into the landfill.
Don’t bag up your tree in plastic after the season. Instead simply put your tree on the curbside so it can be composted. Sweep up any dropped needles.
Check out www.earth911.com for Christmas tree composting programs and dates in your area.
Thank you for supporting local businesses helping to create a more healthy environment for us all!
Article adapted from research and materials graciously provided by Non Toxic Schools