Expanding Organic, Ecological, Regenerative Christmas Tree Agroforestry in Maine

Project Overview

FNE23-049
Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2023: $20,311.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2024
Grant Recipient: Celebration Tree Farm & Wellness Center, LLC
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
Jonah T Fertig-Burd
Celebration Tree Farm & Wellness Center, LLC

Commodities

  • Additional Plants: native plants, ornamentals, trees

Practices

  • Crop Production: agroforestry, forest farming, forest/woodlot management, forestry, other
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, carbon sequestration
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, organic certification, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health

    Proposal summary:

    Maine is known for its organic agriculture and its Christmas tree farms, but the wide majority of Christmas tree farms practice monoculture, chemical-based agriculture.   While forests can sequester carbon, the current practices of the Christmas tree industry have negative impacts on the climate and the health of the soil.  For the past 30 years, our farm has practiced ecological methods of organic Christmas tree farming through coppicing of Balsam Fir trees and encouraging diversity of plant and tree species. This project will work to support existing Christmas tree farmers and other farmers and forest owners to transition to ecological, organic, and climate-smart practices through research and education.  

     

    Objectives: This project seeks to:

    1. Research and compile best practices of regenerative, organic Christmas tree farmers around the country and develop an accessible guide 
    2. Provide education on organic regenerative agroforestry practices for Christmas tree farming in Maine
    3. Encourage existing Christmas tree farmers, farmers, and forestland owners to embrace organic, regenerative Christmas tree farming practices
    4. Reach 150 people in workshops and distribute 300 guides (digital and hardcopy)

     

    Key Components of our Work Plan:

    • 3 On-Farm Workshops and 1 webinar
    • 3 Workshops at Conferences (including Common Ground Fair, Farmer to Farmer Conference, and Maine Ag Trade Show)
    • A Guide to Ecological, Organic Christmas Tree Farming

     

    Outreach Strategy

    We will reach participants and disseminate the guide through existing relationships with organizations including Maine Christmas Tree Association, Cooperative Extension, MOFGA, Wild Seed Project, ReTreeUs, Maine Farmer Resource Network, and others. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to:

    1. Research and compile best practices of regenerative, organic Christmas tree farmers around the country and to connect these farmers together 
      1. We will study what practices are being used and farmer observations about these practices, the benefits in protecting forest health, market perceptions and demand for these practices, and the financial benefits. 
      2. We will develop a guide that will document and share these best practices and promote organic, regenerative agroforestry.
    2. Provide education on organic regenerative agroforestry practices for Christmas tree farming in Maine
      1. We will evaluate based on the number of workshops that we deliver (goal is to develop and deliver 3 on-farm workshops, 1 webinar, and 3 conference workshops) and the evaluations that we receive after the workshops.  
    3.  Encourage existing Christmas tree farmers, existing farmers, service providers, and forestland owners to embrace organic, regenerative Christmas tree farming practices
      1. We will evaluate through conducting post-workshop surveys to determine whether participants are interested in pursuing these practices either by transitioning an existing tree farm or starting a new farm. 
    4. Reach 150 people in workshops and distribute 300 guides (digital and hardcopy)
      1. We will measure by tracking the number of people that attend workshops and download the guide. 
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.