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Eating your Christmas tree

  • Written by Kirsten Abel

Woodinville’s The Herbfarm recently partnered with Buttonwood Farm, a new organic Redmond tree farm, to concoct holiday recipes using the needles off your Christmas tree. (Note: only organic tree needles are safe to eat.)

Tom Button, Buttonwood Farm’s founder, ran into Herbfarm co-owner Carrie Van Dyck on a plane to Seattle.

“He mentioned our current family farm project, and they came up with the crazy idea to collaborate on the concept of eating your Christmas tree,” said Charley Button, Tom Button’s daughter, in an email interview.

DSC 5412 betsychrisBetsy Button (Charley Button’s sister) with Chef Chris Weber of The Herbfarm (Photos courtesy of Buttonwood Farm)“We were interested in partnering with a local business that shared our values, and we discovered over the course of our organic farming research that fir needles have many uses, including as an ingredient in recipes,” she said. “It was a perfect fit.”

Chris Weber, The Herbfarm’s chef, created two dishes using the Douglas Fir needles: Christmas tree sorbet and Douglas Fir cured salmon. To try the recipes, visit buttonwoodfarm.com/recipes.

Fir needles are edible just like any other herb or spice, Button said. She suggested using them like rosemary to season chicken or like tea leaves to make a flavorful tea.
A key requirement for using the needles off your own tree as a seasoning is that the tree be organic. According to Button, many tree farms use pesticides and fertilizers to maximize yield and speed the growth process. Those chemicals can be harmful to ingest.

Organic tree farms are somewhat unusual, but Button said more and more consumers are paying attention to what they are bringing into their homes. 
Buttonwood Farm began selling in November of last year. The farm’s trees are completely organic and are poison- and chemical-free.

“We wanted to provide a kid-safe and pet-safe option that would not bring poisons into your living room, but we also consider the harmful runoff from pesticides into the ground and our streams,” Button said.

Available trees at the farm range from small four-footers to towering trees reaching up to 17 feet. Varieties include Douglas, Nordmann, and Turkish Firs.

“We are constantly experimenting and innovating in order to end up with a beautiful Christmas tree crop without using anything that could harm your kids or pets,” Button said. “We track the exact genetic line of the trees that thrive the best without any intervention, and plant more of those each year.”

Many of the farm’s staff members come from local area high schools and athletics clubs.

“As this has been a family project mainly organized by my siblings and I, the kids work to maintain the farm in the offseason, employing other friends and teammates to help with whatever needs to get done,” Button said.

Visit Buttonwood Farm in Redmond near Sixty Acres Park to get the full holiday experience. There’s complimentary hot chocolate and candy canes. There are custom ornaments made from a slice of your tree’s trunk. And there are different levels of Christmas tree service to choose from.

“Customers can enjoy the tradition of cutting down and setting up their own tree the old-fashioned way,” Button said. “There is always the option to just pick a favorite tree to be cut, baled, delivered, and setup with optional white glove delivery service.”

Buttonwood Farm is open Monday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visit www.buttonwoodfarm.com for more information.

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