Forestry Students Hold Christmas Tree Sale to Raise Money for Organic Tree Farm

October 20, 2009

Tim Lucas, 919-613-8084,

DURHAM, N.C. - The Duke University student chapter of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) is now taking orders for North Carolina-grown Fraser fir Christmas trees.

Proceeds will help fund a student-managed organic Christmas tree farm in Duke Forest.

Trees between 5-feet and 12-feet tall are available for pre-order through November 6. Prices range from $35 to $160.

To order, or for more information, go to

Pre-ordered trees can be picked up on either November 29 or December 5 at the Duke Forest shed on Lemur Lane, which is located off Erwin Road, near the Cameron Boulevard roundabout west of 15/501.

The trees being sold this year are not organic, but they have been grown using integrated pest management to minimize pesticide use.

SAF members used proceeds from the sale of tree last year to plant 300 organic Leyland cypress, Arizona cypress and Eastern red cedar trees on a three-acre plot of cleared land in Duke Forest. This year, they will plant 150 new trees of the same species. The trees will be ready for harvest in four or five years.

Second year MEM/MF student Nick DiLuzio says the SAF Christmas tree farm will offer buyers a more sustainable way to get Christmas trees, and will fill the organic void in the local tree market.

He also says it offers not only the opportunity to raise more funds for SAF, but also to promote cooperation between other graduate student groups.

“We’ll be recruiting students to help plant trees in December,” he says. “I think in the end the farm is going to be big enough that we can bring in students from other graduate organizations, even share some proceeds with them, and increase our sense of community, both within the Nicholas School and outside it.

“We’re going to have to learn how to trim the trees and how to prune them to get that good shape that everybody looks for, so we get a lot of hands-on experience,” Di Luzio says. Since students will be solely responsible for managing the farm, “it will provide a great opportunity for us to practice business administration as well as forestry.”

In addition to funding the SAF farm, proceeds from sales will support more educational opportunities for students and bring in more speakers.