Environmental Sustainability: It’s More than a Buzz Word at Abbey Farms
As a consumer, if you’ve made a conscious decision to help our planet by “living green,” you likely realize it isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Like many of us, Abbey Farms also takes measures to improve the environment. In upcoming blog and social media posts, we’ll share our current initiatives and what we plan to do in the future to increase environmental sustainability.
Trees: Our Top Planet Helper
The Abbey Farms’ Christmas tree fields contribute to a cycle of life that significantly improves our environment. We have approximately 100,000 trees growing on our land. To ensure a constant supply, we plant two to three seedlings for each tree harvested. So, cutting a tree from our fields doesn’t reduce the number of trees working to purify the air.
If we all think back to our biology classes, we learned about photosynthesis. You remember, don’t you? It’s the process where in its simplest form, CO2 [carbon dioxide] and H2O [water] plus energy [sunlight] are converted into O2 [oxygen] and (C6H12O6) [glucose]. The oxygen goes into the air we breathe.
This makes trees and plants the air-purifiers for the earth. At Abbey Farms, our Christmas tree fields convert enough carbon dioxide into oxygen for over 2,100 people yearly!
More than Clean Air
In the 1940s, the monks of Marmion Abbey acquired the property that Abbey Farms occupies. From day one, the operation has been a nonprofit organization to benefit the monks and their mission. The monks have always considered the environment in their farming choices.
The farm was originally a dairy and corn farm. Traditional farming methods were not all that environmentally friendly when the monks took over the property. Soil erosion was a constant problem. They thought trees would be good to stabilize the soil, but a traditional timber wouldn’t provide any ongoing income for the monks.
After consulting with government soil conservation officials, they decided to plant evergreens. The monks slowly integrated the property into a Christmas tree farm during the U.S. Government-sponsored Soil Bank project in the late 1940s to early 1950s. It proved to be a good decision as residential neighborhoods and paved streets mushroomed around us since that time.
Our tree fields help control water runoff. To take it a step further, this year we planted red and white clover in our tree rows. Besides controlling water runoff, we can reduce mowing from once a week to twice a year. The clover’s pollen is also fantastic for attracting honeybees. The honeybees are critical to pollinate our pumpkins, vegetables and for the newly-planted apple trees. Soon, we will have hives on site, with the honey harvested to sell.
Our trees also support wildlife, providing nesting sites and year-round cover. We routinely find birds nesting in and under our trees. If you walk through the fields, you’re likely to kick up rabbits and other small mammals.
Each of our trees is hand-trimmed. Not only does this provide summer employment, we aren’t using machinery and fossil fuels to complete this monumental chore. If you’d like to read how we trim each one of our 100,000 trees, we wrote a blog post about it. You can find it here.
Further adding to sustainable farming, Abbey Farms only purchases pre-owned tractors. We give existing equipment a second life and lessen the impact on earth’s resources.
Choose Real Over Artificial
We realize that people will always debate which Christmas tree is better for the environment: “real” versus artificial. As a Christmas tree farm, we can’t help but point out how a freshly-cut Christmas tree benefits the environment.
Most artificial trees are a petroleum-based product that is primarily manufactured in Chinese factories. Smokey freighters bring the trees to the United States. From the coast, trucks (that also use fossil fuels and belch polluting smoke) carry them to locations all over the country.
It is said that the average family uses its artificial tree for only six to nine years before it is tossed. At that point, because PVC doesn’t decompose, it sits for centuries in landfills. Contrast that to a real tree: when it is tossed, it can be turned into beneficial mulch or compost. Another is planted in its place and the circle of life goes on.
Watch for upcoming posts about the sustainable features of the Nagel Emporium and our produce growing. We look forward to see you during Christmas season when you stop by to choose your own “real” tree for Christmas this year!