I grew up down the street from a very historic tree farm. Picking our tree was a yearly family excursion full of hayrides, hot apple cider and shopping for seasonal gifts (maple syrup, anyone?). Ours would be live, with the roots intact, and we would plant it in January. Many people would buy cut trees, enjoying the tradition of hunting their own down and cutting it, which would be either mulched after the holidays or left out in the back yard (or in a pile at the landfill) to biodegrade. The supply always felt abundant and easily renewed, and the waste only seemed to be a benefit for the surrounding countryside.
After transplanting myself to the city, I was amazed by the overnight immigration of sidewalk tree vendors and the much larger tree consumption.
Where did these people come from?
How did they manage to never run out of trees?
Why would anyone stay out in the numbing cold for over 8 hours at a time?
Are we being responsible consumers by buying these trees?
In the coming week, weather permitting, I will be spending quality time with city’s seasonal sidewalk tree vendors, hopefully getting a peek at their digs and a few shots of proud new tree owners.
As for our mass seasonal tree consumption, we don’t have many back yards for biodegrading or many neighbors that happen to have mulchers (paper shredders just won’t work). But there are good arguments that support live trees over fake and our own Department of Sanitation works very hard to recycle the trees once they hit the curb. In the end, the trees are used in fertilizing our parks!
While we're going to go looking for tree seller to stay up all night with, here's a guide to picking and keeping your live tree.
- Matt N. (Photo: Lida Rose)