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Goat farms offer unique way of recycling Christmas trees

December 29, 2018

If your New Year’s resolution is to recycle more often, you might find comfort in knowing that the 28 goats at the Trinity Farms Center for Healing in Boswell will recycle your old Christmas tree — by eating it.

The center is a therapy farm where people in recovery develop the skills needed to integrate back into their communities by working outdoors with animals. Paula Eppley-Newman, the center’s board chairwoman, said that by donating old Christmas trees, residents would be giving joy to more than just the goats. “This is a small piece of how people are able to give back by donating Christmas trees and then the goats enjoy them, and people (in recovery) that we work with enjoy the goats,” she said. “It’s like a circle.”

The center has been accepting donated Christmas trees for three years.

Eppley-Newman asked that anyone interested in donating an old tree should deliver it to her home address: 189 Gilbert Hollow Road, Hollsopple.

“We just decided to put a call out one year, and it’s just gone wild from there,” she said. “So many people are just excited by the fact that they can recycle their Christmas tree, and they don’t have to throw it out. They’re fascinated by the fact that the goats are willing to eat them, and that it also has a nutritional value for them.”

Darci Sanner, who, along with Amanda Welsh, owns the Summer Smiles Honey Farm in Stoystown, said she’s accepting donated Christmas trees for her goats to eat, too.

“They eat the needles, and they will totally clean it bare. You just see the branches,” she said. “They’ll eat the bark, also. It’s pretty wild.”

Sanner said residents can donate their trees by dropping them off near a barn on her farm at 939 Horner Church Road, Stoystown.

She said her goats are rescue animals from the Somerset County Humane Society. She said she had begun to foster the goats about two years ago, and that a couple of them surprised her with a memorable Christmas gift this year.

“On Christmas Day, two of our goats surprised us with babies, so we have Christmas babies,” Sanner said. “They’re adorable.”

Both Sanner and Eppley-Newman said that the pine from Christmas trees is a “natural dewormer” for goats.

Sanner said it’s important that the donated trees have not been commercially sprayed and do not have any tinsel in them.

“It’s real important because that wouldn’t be good for the goats,” she said.

In addition to Christmas tree donations, Eppley-Newman said monetary donations can be made payable to the Trinity Farms Center for Healing. She said monetary donations can also be delivered to her home address. They help to fund new room houses for people in recovery, like the new Micah House that is to open on Jan. 6.

Eppley-Newman said the house will be a home for men who are moving on from addictions. She said the center’s workers are all volunteers.

“It’s all volunteer-driven, and we’re just trying to help people in the community struggling with moving forward from addiction,” she said. “We’re just building a community of support around them to help them get the skills and the confidence that they need.”

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