It started a few years ago when I heard about a local rescue accepting Christmas trees… since then I have wanted to bring my live Christmas tree to goats. But it always seemed a bit odd to drive more than 20-30 mins to deliver one tree… and I wasn’t sure my Hyundai Elantra would be up for the drive. This year while researching better ways to reuse Jack O’lanterns I was introduced to Karen from The Frugal Farm. Her goal is to reduce food waste by using it as a feedstock for her animals. I contacted her to find out if she could use and wants Christmas trees and her response was an enthusiastic YES (she taught me that goats not only enjoy Christmas trees, they benefit from eating them as they are a natural dewormer). While Christmas trees are composted in the City (and can be used as a natural wind break for the canal), using them as food for goats and then using the remaining wood for bedding seemed a more “circular economy” approach. Thus started a long journey of figuring out how to get Christmas trees to her farm.
In the end, we were able to collect about 30 Christmas trees with this pilot by using my personal residence as a drop off point (thanks to my darling husband for simply stating “wow, there are a lot of trees in our front yard…) And we learned a few things for next year:
- Local drop off points for Christmas trees is crucial so that people can minimize driving and maximize visibility;
- Trees collected after January 6th are much drier, so ideally, schedule pick up before January 6th;
- Local parks would be ideal but will require some type of agreement with the city so that participants don’t get fined for “illegal dumping”. Organizing one all day drop-off “blitz” may work;
- Having a designated volunteer for each street to gather trees on garbage day is most efficient;
- Participants need be reminded that trees must be free of tinsel if they will be donated for food for goats (I didn’t even realize tinsel was still sold in stores);
- Volunteers that have pick-up trucks, trailers, etc. will be needed if this is going to become bigger (A Hyundai Elantra can transport 4 Christmas trees at one time but loading is time-consuming…see bullet point below);
- If loading Christmas tree(s) onto a car that has a toddler passenger, cookies and/or treats are invaluable in buying patience (as well as Christmas sing along music);
- It would be great to have multiple farms that are closer to different parts of the city;
- Finding a way for people to meet a goat while dropping off their trees may result in greater participation (a common question asked was: “can we meet the goats?”)
I am happy we did this pilot, and do believe that it has value; we received only positive feedback from participants. But for it to succeed next year, we will need more volunteers! If this is something that you would like to be involved in next year, even if it’s the only activity you want to help out with, send us an email. The goats will thank you.