There's a motto at Tiny Terra Ferma on Main Street in Manayunk this holiday season: "Keep Christmas alive." The garden supply and design store nestled in a repurposed garage on the corner of Main and Cotton streets is hosting a live Christmas tree sale that doubles as a restoration project for greening efforts around the city.

 

"It's a pet peeve of mine that on the first of the year everyone's beautiful cut conifers are out on the street," said Jeff Lorenz, co-owner of Tiny Terra Ferma. "When I lived in New York it felt like the city would throw away a whole forest every season."

Changing a post-holiday tradition

To combat that trend, Lorenz and his business partner, Annie Scott, decided to source live native white pines, Canadian hemlocks and junipers to sell at their shop. Each tree has been hand selected and locally sourced from Pennsylvania and New Jersey growers and range in size from tabletop accents to full "Christmas size" trees.

Once purchased, buyers have the option of replanting the trees in their backyards, donating the trees back to Tiny Terra Ferma or other local environmental centers including the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education and the Upper Roxborough Reservoir, or participating in a replanting event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service — Jan. 20, 2014.

"We are always looking for opportunities to help re-establish ecosystems and wildlife habitats as well as foster volunteer greening efforts," Lorenz said on their idea behind the Christmas tree project. "There are so many places, especially in and around Roxborough and Manayunk with an aesthetic and ecological opportunity for restoration that it just seems insane to throw out so many trees."

The store

Lorenz and Scott, who met through their shared passion of neighborhood greening efforts, see their Christmas tree project as another opportunity to get the community educated and enthusiastic about land restoration. They opened Tiny Terra Ferma in April of this year to serve as a complement to their sustainable landscape design company.

"Tiny Terra Ferma is a place where people can get engaged and learn about gardening and green design," Scott said. In addition to their plants and garden supplies, Tiny Terra Ferma hosts several DIY workshops and the occasional pop-up. For the month of December, they're housing Hello Home Shoppe — a pop-up cafe offering hot cider, sandwiches, and pastries.

On their Christmas tree project, Lorenz and Scott say it has been met with an overwhelming response so far.

"It was important for us to get the idea out there this year," Scott said. "But it's a project we're hoping will become a tradition; something that we, and the community, can grow with year after year.