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Christmas tree pesticide
The farm that grew your Christmas tree probably used pesticides that you may not be allowed to use in your own garden. CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen tells you about the organic tree alternative.
For years -- the only decision to make when it came to choosing a Christmas tree was whether to go with real or artificial. But these days, it's a bit more complicated.
The fact is, most trees are grown using pesticides that may be banned from your own garden. But there is an alternative for those wanting to enjoy a green Christmas.
At the Bees Knees Christmas tree farm in Cultus Lake, they are as busy these days as, well -- bees. After five years' investment -- this is the first year Michelle Lemieux's family will have "organically" grown trees for market.
"People that are already purchasing local and sustainable products will be interested in our trees I believe," she said.
Michelle's family opted to grow using organic methods after they balked at the recommended spraying when they tried growing trees on a different property.
"There was every kind of warnings on the labels. [Things like] not to let it blow onto you [and] you can't let it get onto anything else," she said. "So it was a nasty job that no one wanted to do and we thought there has to be a better way of doing this."
Commercial Christmas tree operations use pesticides. In the United States, growers estimate they use about seven millilitres of pesticides over the life of a tree to bring it to market. The past president of the B.C. Christmas Tree Council, Art Loewen, says local growers use as little as possible.
"We have to do some spraying and the Douglas Fir is the one that needs a fungicide to keep it happy, and the Fraser Fir is the one that needs the most spraying because of the Balsam Woolly Adelgids which can destroy a whole crop if you're not proactive and keep it out."
And Loewen says growers will use Roundup, which is banned from domestic use in many B.C. communities, to keep the weeds down. But he says all the spray residues are long gone by harvest time.
"They don't need to worry about it at this time of year because the spraying has been done in the spring -- not now," he said.
But for families that do worry, Michelle hopes her trees will be an alternative.
"Your number one defence is choosing the right tree to grow in the right place. So, we've chosen to plant Grand Fir, which does really well. It's really immune to quite a few pests," Michelle said.
Michelle says her neighbours and friends in traditional Christmas tree farms have been supportive and helpful and are growing a good product. Growing organically just feels right for her family.
They are seeking organic certification and have already been labelled "Salmon Safe."
Bees Knees trees are primarily sold in Yarrow near their Cultus Lake farm, as well as for one day only at the Vancouver Farmers' Holiday Market on Dec. 11.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen