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Des produits sécuritaires et de qualité qui proviennent de la nature

Saviez-vous que le Nouveau-Brunswick est la province qui produit le plus de couronnes de Noël au Canada? Compte tenu que la plupart des arbres utilisés dans les maisons durant la saison de Noël sont arrosés avec des pesticides, M&W Wreaths a décidé d'offrir la possibilité d’acheter des couronnes sans pesticides pour mieux décorer. 
Ces couronnes sont faites avec des bouts frais et luxuriants choisis minutieusement à partir de sapins baumiers sans pesticides.

L’entreprise utilise (elle n’exploite pas) une ressource naturelle locale et elle déclare: "Les écologistes et les conservationnistes doivent travailler de concert avec les producteurs afin de s’assurer que le moins de pesticides possible soient utilisés sur les arbres."

L’auteure, Marilyn Powell, ajoute: "Cette une expérience très satisfaisante de créer un produit sécuritaire et de qualité à partir des dons de la nature et sans pour autant nuire à l’environnement, tout en offrant un peu de travail à quelques personnes de la localité; nos décorations sont élégantes et peu coûteuses et sont une source de grande satisfaction personnelle pour ceux et celles qui gèrent cette opération!"


































"We believe
the public
should have
the opportunity
to purchase a
product with
which to
decorate their
home during
the holiday


Producing safe and quality products from the land

Marilyn Powell
M&W Wreaths, 
Grand Lake Meadows Conservation Committee
June 2001

ur Christmas business, M&W Wreaths, is a small, environmentally friendly enterprise which has successfully filled a niche in local markets for the last few years. We produce wreaths made from lush, fresh tips carefully selected from pesticide-free balsam fir trees. It is important to us to ensure that our product is produced without harming our environment.

Balsam fir tree

We believe the public should have the opportunity to purchase a sustainably harvested, pesticide-free product with which to decorate their home during the holiday season. Until we started producing wreaths, we had not given much thought to where our Christmas trees come from. The public should realize that most trees brought into their homes have been sprayed, perhaps as many as eight to ten times, depending on the age of the tree (it normally takes eight to twelve years to grow a seven to eight foot tree). Environmentalists/ conservationists must work with growers to ensure as few pesticides as possible are used on our trees. We must also remember that there is a difference between Christmas trees planted much like an agriculture crop (as a tree plantation), and our "free range" balsam firs, which grow naturally. These trees, having been considered weeds of the woods in years gone by, now are coveted for their decorative value.

Our little business appealed to us because we felt it was using, but not exploiting, a local natural resource—a native indigenous plant, so to speak. We have over four hundred acres of woodland and because we do not feel justified at this time to harvest simply for fiber, this has provided a very small window of opportunity to utilize some of our own balsam fir. It has also provided that opportunity for a few others in our community.

As well as being environmentally friendly, our wreaths are of high quality. During the summer, large pine cones are selected for decorating our wreaths. All of these must be dried and tied with wire. We also make large bows from burgundy or red ribbons, which can be reused or recycled after the holiday season. The wreaths are hand made rather than machine made, and our wreath makers do this in addition to other jobs and busy holiday schedules. We provide the supplies , including rings (which form the base of the wreath), and the wire used to tie the tips to the ring. The process requires considerable skill and we inspect and decorate each individual wreath, making sure it is at least four pounds in weight and uniform in appearance.

Tips are harvested beginning around the end of October through until Christmas, when the trees have "hardened off" and it is considered right timing to tip them. Tips also stay green for a longer period of time after that approximate date. Our wreaths look fresh well through February!

The wreath industry has really taken off in New Brunswick, with wreath sales well in the lead over Christmas tree sales and bringing millions of dollars into the hands of those who do a booming business all over North and even South America for a very short period of the year. Excitingly enough, our industry is becoming increasingly recognized as a "natural product" industry. Based on 1998 industry consultations, New Brunswick produced an estimated 4.1 million Christmas wreaths. This production is valued at $20.5 million Canadian. The production of related products such as grave blankets, kissing balls, and garland significantly increases the value of this sector. New Brunswick is the largest wreath-manufacturing province in Canada!

A total of 4,150 full-time seasonal wreath winding and tip harvesting jobs (five to six-week duration) are directly generated each year. This does not include other spin-off effects and other employment. However, we must note that this production consumes an estimated 9 300 tonnes of tips, most of which are collected from non-dedicated areas on private and publicly owned lands. The beauty of this is, if tipped properly, the so-called need for clear-cutting is removed and the tree can recover nicely, after being harvested for this purpose. Those who tip for us ensure they do not interfere with the healthy growth of the trees, thereby protecting the resource for the future.

Those elsewhere in the province who engage in this venture large scale, are finding a dwindling supply of the resource and therefore, may be forced to mass produce an inferior product in order to meet demand. We have no intention of ever using machines to make wreaths or over-harvesting until the trees are badly damaged or die. Our standards must remain high, therefore keeping us small but satisfied to supply locally. Certainly, we may entertain other markets, but our environmental conscience must be our guide. We believe greed in the business has already encouraged over-utilization, which often results in stealing tips from private, crown or freehold land, or the use of very poor quality tips. We consider this to be unacceptable practice.

We are also very much against the introduction of exotic or non-indigenous species. An exotic plant can take over space required for the survival of our own native species. It can also choke out or destroy habitat or the natural home of many animals. A classic example of an exotic plant out of control is Purple Loosestrife, which has invaded our wetlands at an alarming rate. We are fully supportive of looking to our native species and generating limited income from the use of such plants or trees, keeping in mind the problems created by over-harvesting any of our precious resources.

Overall, it is a very rewarding experience to produce a quality, safe product from the land—something which you feel has not been a detriment to our environment, yet can bring a small amount of employment to a few local people, elegant and inexpensive decorations to many, and such a personal satisfaction to those running the operation!

In closing, we would like to pay tribute to the Christmas tree specialist and others, who worked so closely with the public through the Department of Natural Resources and Energy’s Forestry Extension Program. It existed for many years and we all took their expertise for granted. Recently the province put the program on the chopping block and these people are sincerely missed. We thank them for all their dedication to us over the years! They worked for the people of New Brunswick, helping us to understand our heritage of natural plants, including trees, and how to use them to advantage without forcing them into extinction.