We feel fortunate to own and manage Boulder Brook Farm. It’s our little piece of Eden, and with ownership comes responsibility. We aim to do our part in maintaining the Earth’s dynamic, productive, and sustainable ecological systems through careful stewardship. One first step is the humility to accept that despite all discovered through scientific study, much remains to be learned about how natural systems work. Here are a few ways in which we preserve, cultivate, and contribute to our essential ecosystem.
Farming in a Green Way
Christmas Tree Farming is a form of “no-till” agriculture, in which the soil is disturbed little, if at all. The growing and harvesting of real Christmas Trees actually help reduce the carbon content of our atmosphere. A field of young, fast-growing trees pulls much more carbon out of the atmosphere than older, mature trees.
And of course, real Christmas Trees are 100% organic and recyclable – providing mulch and compost for gardens and landscaping.
The natural landscape of our Farm provides a home for countless wild animals and plants. The Christmas Tree field itself is especially attractive to regional species of birds seeking its “brushy” cover, and to many small animals hiding from hawks and other birds of prey. To help species of cavity-nesting wildlife, we install and maintain nesting boxes for owls, bluebirds, and bats. Turkey, deer, hawks, and geese range all over the Farm, living, and breeding in a healthy natural habitat.
Generating Solar Power
We’re 100% solar! In 2018 we worked with Suncommon Energy and National Grid to install photovoltaic panels on our pole barn. These supply all the electricity the Farm uses over the course of a calendar year. During the sunny summer, we generate more than we use and feed electricity into the grid, for which we receive credits. Then during the darker winter, we generate less electricity than we use and draw on the grid from those stored credits. While using solar panels isn’t for everyone, we believe it’s worth doing what we can on the Farm to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.
Preserving Forests, Ponds, Meadows, Fields
At present, our Farm is twenty-six acres. Of that, half the acreage is native forest – and we intend to keep it that way. From an agricultural point of view, cropland is the most productive, and forest land the least. But from an ecological point of view, the reverse is largely true. Our forest land provides habitat for a rich, diverse array of plants and animals, most of which have developed in an intricate web of balance over thousands of years. In addition, the forest buffers many extremes presented by the physical environment: hot versus cold, wet versus dry, windy versus still.
Protecting water resources is important to a healthy ecosystem. The spring-fed stream running through our forest is sheltered from disturbance and contamination. And we have enhanced the diversity of water habitats by maintaining one manmade pond and creating a second one. Every spring, several species of turtles migrate from Saratoga Lake all the way up Drummond Creek to our ponds and streambanks to lay their eggs!
As insects are fundamental to the web of plant and animal interactions, we help to maintain these vital members of the community by keeping honeybees and encouraging pollinating insects. This requires maintaining acres of open meadow where the plants which feed these insects can thrive. We mow our meadows only once a year, after the first frost, to help maximize nectar production and protect meadow-nesting birds.
For further information on the ecologics and economics of growing Christmas Trees, as well as our professional associations, these are excellent sources.
Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York
PO Box 65
McGraw NY 13101
National Christmas Tree Association
PO Box 3609
Littleton, CO 80161