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Monday, June 21, 2010

Can't Beat the Real Thing

Lately I have been wondering why we Americans have always wanted the "real, authentic, genuine deal". I was walking around New York, not too long ago, when I was approached by an individual carrying a black trash bag full of "Foakleys" (fake Oakley sunglasses). As I stood there in horror at the thought of buying a knockoff another person showed up with a briefcase full of Bolex (imitation Rolex). Granted both looked pretty good from far away and only cost $10 as opposed to hundreds of dollars, but I couldn't buy them knowing they weren't real. The price didn't matter. I could not settle for anything less than the real thing.

In 1969 Coca Cola started using the word "real" in their slogan, and have used it multiple times since then. We like to have the original, the authentic, the genuine item rather than a phony, knockoff, or look-alike.

Ladies love their Coach purses and wallets and to see someone walking around with a fake causes us to hear a scream from deep down inside us saying, "NOOOOOOO!" It is not even second best to the real thing. It is just a wannabe and in some cases even worse, a wannabe wannabe.

I look around and ask myself, "How many businesses would succeed if they advertised their merchandise as fake or artificial?" Imagine these adds for just a second:

  • "Enjoy our artificial Italian food"

  • "Get a look-alike Mac"

  • "Pepsi almost as good as Coke"

  • "Every Kiss Begins with a Phony Diamond"

  • "Bank of America, the nation's potential leading financial institution and home for all of your personal financial needs."

  • "Save Money on knockoffs, Live Better"

Do you think anyone could do business with such obviously ridiculous ads? I don't think so. These companies would fall apart in a matter of weeks.

So now the obvious question which begs to be asked is, "How can companies publicly advertise artificial Christmas Trees, at a higher cost than the real thing, and make money?" In most industries advertising something as fake or artificial is suicide, but somehow someone is trying to twist our sense of the "real deal" and have us settle for something far inferior and for a greater price. This boggles my mind.

Some may say, "It's easier to put up and there is no mess". What about the authentic Christmas tradition of decorating the tree as a family or with our friends? What about the authentic smell of a real pine tree in our house? What about the fact that buying an artificial tree puts you in the category of buying Foakleys, Frauda and fake Coach bags? What about the health hazards caused by the material contained in your fake tree (check out my blog on this subject)?

If cleaning up a few pine needles every year outweighs the importance of the original real Christmas tree tradition then by all means enjoy your lead filled PVC artificial tree.

Do yourself a favor this year. Don't settle for anything less than the real thing. Buy a real genuine American grown Christmas tree this year. You can even have it shipped to your front door from a real, authentic, genuine Christmas tree farm: Dutchman Tree Farms

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

6 Must Knows to the Perfect Christmas Tree

Every year I buy my Christmas tree and watch others buy theirs and I wonder if they really know how to take care of the tree they are taking home. Here are 6 simple steps to make sure you get the most out of your Christmas tree this year :

  1. Make sure there has been a fresh cut (1/4”–1/2” thick disk of wood) at the base of the trunk before bringing the tree into your home. This fresh cut will allow the tree to draw water from the tree stand and keep the needles fresh.

  2. Place the Christmas tree in water as soon as possible after the tree has a fresh cut at the base; the temperature of the water does not matter.

  3. Place the tree in a stand that fits the tree. Don’t take the bark off the tree as this will hinder the tree’s ability to absorb water. The stand should provide one quart of water for each inch of the stem’s diameter.

  4. Keep the tree away from heat sources to slow the drying process, such as heaters, fireplaces, heat vents and direct sunlight.

  5. Check the level of water in the stand every few days since the tree may not be submerged in the water if the level gets too low. The tree may consume two pans of water within the first 24 hours.

  6. Properly dispose of the Christmas tree after it is dried out. Your city may offer a tree disposal service or you can recycle your tree.

The only advice I can give if you buy an artificial tree is you might want to also invest in an astronaut suite to avoid lead poisoning. You can find a few more Christmas tree tips at Dutchman Tree Farms.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Evergreen News

Dutchman Christmas Tree Farm

What do Christmas tree farmers do during the rest of the year when it's not Christmas?

This question was posed on Yahoo! Answers. I am not going to tell you everything done during the entire year, but will shed some light on what we currently are doing here at Dutchman Tree Farms to get your Christmas tree ready for the big day.

From June to August the Christmas tree fields start buzzing with workers around 7:15 am. Up and down the rows they go, pruning and cleaning each Christmas tree. Each row has 75 to 100 Christmas Trees and by the end of the day each worker has cleaned and pruned between 1,200 to 1,500 trees.

Pruning and cleaning the Christmas trees is a three step process:

  1. The leader (the part of the tree where you would traditionally put the star or the angel) needs to be measured and cut. Some trees have more than one leader, so the extra leaders are removed.
  2. All birds' nests are carefully relocated and every pine cone is removed.
  3. The workers then proceed cut any stray branches to give each Christmas tree shape.

Following the pruning process we then tag the Christmas trees for the fall harvest.

As you can see it is quite a busy time. We take pride in our work and every individual tree gets individual attention to make you receive the best Christmas tree possible.

Watch our videos to get a better understanding of life on the farm and our Christmas fundraiser

Monday, June 7, 2010

The American Christmas Tree Association, As Fake as Their Christmas Trees

Today I read the following article on the American Christmas Tree Association's (ACTA) web-site: Carbon Footprint Study Finds Artificial Christmas Trees Best for the Environment.

My curiosity got the better of me and I searched their site hoping to find the results of this study. My efforts were in vain. The only information I found, other than their interpretation of the supposed results, was that the study was an "in-depth analysis". Now if that doesn't make you wonder, look them up on Wikipedia. You will read the following, "The group claims to have sponsored studies, but hasn't released the actual studies to the public".

Still not convinced? Here is an excerpt from their study:

"The study, sponsored by the American Christmas Tree Association and conducted by leading international sustainability firm PE Americas, found that the most significant contribution to global warming came from fossil fuel consumption in transportation of real Christmas trees from tree farms and lots to consumer homes."
What is wrong with this picture? I can see three things:
  1. It looks like the root of the problem here is "fossil fuel consumption in transportation", that is driving a car, and has very little to do with Christmas trees.
  2. Last time I checked an artificial Christmas tree doesn't just appear in a living room. I think someone has to drive to the local Home Depot or Lowe's and pick it up.
  3. If the ACTA went to all the trouble of sponsoring this study why didn't they publish the scientific results?
I am the kind of guy who needs answers and after reading this article it left me with a question. Is there something they aren't telling me? I promptly began to do my own research and this is what I found.

Artificial Christmas trees are made of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). What's the big deal, right? We have pipes in our basements and wires in our walls which contain PVC. Wrong!
  1. Early 1970's Dr. John Creech and Dr. Maurice Johnson were the first to clearly link and recognize the cancer causing tendency found in the chemicals used in PVC.
  2. Greenpeace has advocated the global discontinuing of PVC because dioxin is produced as a byproduct vinyl chloride manufacturing and from the burning of PVC waste.
  3. California is currently considering a bill, sponsored by Californians Against Waste to ban using PVC in packaging because of the threats it poses to the health of humans and the environment.
  4. PVC is not normally recycled after use because the recycling process is very costly.
  5. In 2005 Dr. Richard Maas, after a study conducted on artificial Christmas trees, is quoted as saying, "We found that if we leave one of these trees standing for a week, and we wipe under the tree we'll find large amounts of lead dust..."
  6. A 2008 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report found that of the 50 million artificial trees in the US about 20 million were 9 or more years old, the point where dangerous lead levels are reached.
  7. California requires that each artificial Christmas tree come with a warning label about the toxins contained in the PVC.
So does this mean a real Christmas tree is better?

I was able to find a study that actually did share it's scientific
results. There are three points I want to highlight about this study:
  1. Results show that a natural tree will generate 3.1 kg of greenhouse gases whereas the artificial tree will produce 8.1 kg per year.
  2. ellipsos chose the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method to perform this study. It follows the recognized ISO 14040 and 14044 standards and it was reviewed by an independent third-party of peers.
  3. Interestingly, to compensate for the impacts of a Christmas tree, be it natural or artificial, one can offset the carbon emissions by carpooling or biking to work only one to three weeks per year.(I wonder how many people at the American Christmas Tree Association are doing their part here...)

One last note. For every Christmas tree cut down on a farm many more are planted. Dutchman Tree Farms planted over 750 thousand trees already this year.

Regarding whether the American Christmas Tree Association is a fake like their trees... I'll let you decide.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Buzz'n Around the Christmas Tree

Dutchman Tree FarmsSmell is believed to be the most powerful memory related sense. When I smell a Christmas tree, the ghosts of Christmas past start haunting me. Great memories of family, gifts and good times flash before my minds eye and immediately my spirits rise.

Now imagine working at a Christmas Tree farm. These memories never grow dim but are always present. The work on the farm is both exhilarating and at times exhausting.

It is exhilarating because each day the spirit of Christmas is always present which is a motivation to look forward to the Christmases yet to come.

It can be exhausting because many long weeks, months, and years go into each tree. Each tree which eventually will end up possibly in your living room where you and your family will create many great and lasting memories together around your Christmas tree.

I hope to be able to shed some light on the TLC which goes into your Christmas tree, long before it even makes it to your living room. Here at Dutchman Tree Farms we strive to produce the highest quality Christmas and landscaping trees.