After losing ground to artificial trees and wreaths in the past few seasons, Christmas tree growers are hoping people in New Brunswick will come back to the real thing which some argue is a greener choice.

'They're trying to support the local economy by going back to the real tree and not having a landfill full of artificial trees so I think the trend is going back to the fresh.' - Cedarcrest Gardens manager Marina Phillips

Cody Williams, who works at Cedarcrest Gardens in Saint John, says natural trees are the way to go.

"I always use a natural tree," he said. "I like the real feel, I like the smell, it's more classy."

Cedarcrest Gardens manager, Marina Phillips, says consumers are trending back to organic greenery, trees and wreaths that are grown at local farms.

"They're trying to support the local economy by going back to the real tree and not having a landfill full of artificial trees so I think the trend is going back to the fresh," Phillips said.

Ed Czerwinski, a member of the faculty of forestry at the University of New Brunswick, argues real trees are the greener choice for consumers.

He says artificial trees are made from a synthetic plastic and can contain lead which are both bad for the environment. In addition to that, fake trees have to travel a very long way. 

"Probably 85 per cent or greater are brought in from China," Czerwinski said.

The Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association says sales of artificial and natural trees are neck and neck right now.

Demand for artificial trees climbing

Statistics Canada numbers show the value of artificial tree sales rose last year from $45 million to $48 million, while receipts for fresh cut trees slipped from $53 million to $52 million.

Randy Richards, who manages a Canadian Tire on the east side of Saint John, says sales of fake trees are up and the rush began earlier than usual this year.

"Artificial trees continue to climb each year and we actually started about a month ago."

Many buyers, including Dianne Maxwell of Saint John, remain loyal to artificial trees. She owns eight fake trees that take her about a week to put up every year.

"I see so many real trees left over in lots," Maxwell said. "They just don't get used and people get older they have allergies and like me, they can't be around the needles and I just feel it's such a waste."

According to the website of INFOR Inc., which represents tree growers in New Brunswick, the province produces approximately 500,000 trees every year and generates more than $10 million of revenue.

More than 85 per cent of the trees grown in New Brunswick are exported, many to the United States.

INFOR says the biggest challenge for growers this year isn't the threat of artificial trees, but rather a glut of real trees in the United States.