Rockin’ Around the (Organic) Christmas Tree | Sojourners


The photo, taken through the middle Christmas tree bailer, shows two men lifting up a Christmas tree

In rural Virginia, two men are seen through a bailer preparing freshly cut Christmas trees. In the U.S., nearly 30 million live trees will be purchased this year. / Photo by Gary Cameron / Reuters

Rockin’ Around the (Organic) Christmas Tree

How Michael Tabor fights against climate change on his Christmas tree farm.
By Michael Tabor

WHEN I STARTED farming, 52 years ago, I knew it would take 15 to 20 years to plant Christmas trees without chemical fertilizer sprays and colors. Most commercial trees are sprayed with deep dark green. We get requests to mail the trees. We won’t do that because of the carbon footprint. If anything, we’re a little too idealistic. We started renting live trees in pots. They’re cedars. So, it doesn’t look like that perfect tree. Plastic trees are very questionable. A lot of people want a tree that looks like a plastic tree. They want a tree that has a certain look. We defy that.

The heat this year is the hottest on record. The irony is that in the rural area where the farm is, my neighbors don’t accept the concept of climate change. They’ll say, “Oh Mike, these are shifts, it’ll come back.” I keep getting arrested at climate change demonstrations. I went to Fire Drill Fridays and got arrested with Jane Fonda. You have to do this, to call attention to things.

I hope to give people solace, and connection with the earth. Just the joy of a fresh-smelling tree — it’s something hard to beat. If you go back to Germanic times, there’s this concept of bringing a log from the woods into the house...bringing greenery into the world. Now there are serious questions about how long that might continue. I would hope for more concern, more awareness. There’s an old Jewish story: “If the Messiah comes and you’re planting a tree, finish planting the tree.”

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The cover shows an illustration of the manger scene, with everyone asleep. including the animals
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Michael Tabor is a Jewish activist and organic farmer who grows Christmas trees at Licking Bend Creek Farm in Pennsylvania.