Christmas tree growers urge N.S. families to support local industry

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Metro Halifax

The 15-metre (50-feet), 70-year-old white spruce loaded onto the flatbed truck in Jordan Bay, Shelburne County on Tuesday. It will be taken to Digby to board the ferry and continue on its way to Boston. (Nova Scotia Government Handout Photo)

The Boston Christmas tree may represent the unofficial launch of the holiday season for some Nova Scotians, but the harvest for the million-dollar industry has been underway for weeks now.

“My wife becomes a Christmas-tree widow for a couple months every year,” laughed Matthew Priest, president of the Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia.

Priest says exports from Nova Scotia to southern markets begins in mid-October – and business is booming.

However, Priest is urging customers close to home to keep their dollars in the province by buying a local tree rather than an artificial version.

“It’s an important income for rural Nova Scotians,” Priest said, “It’s a livelihood.”

Ecologically-minded types may question the decision to cut down millions of trees every year, and opt for the plastic version, which can be re-used for years.

But Priest said he has had multiple environmental studies done on the impact of tree farming, and the carbon footprint evens out because of constant replanting.

The Ecology Action Centre is also selling sustainably logged Christmas trees and wreaths, meaning the farmer who provides them used no chemical sprays.

“It’s a healthy choice for inside the home,” said Tamar Eylon of the Action Centre, “You’re just breathing in trees.”

A representative of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association touted the long-term durability of artificial trees in an email.

“Artificial Christmas trees are to be re-used year after year, long-term, thus preventing the cutting of trees,” said Darlene Gray of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association.

Eylon says artificial trees are made of plastic derived from oil, vinyl or PVC, and will eventually end up as landfill residents.

“I don’t know if they’ll ever break down,“ she said. “But they can’t be recycled.”

Priest said there’s just nothing like the feel and smell of a real tree during the holidays.

“It’s the fragrance you get from a real fir,” he said, “When you think of Christmas, it’s a lot of tradition.”

Organizations: Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia.Priest, Canadian Plastics Industry Association.Eylon

Geographic location: Nova Scotians, Nova Scotia

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