Light and crispy, these beautiful and traditional cookies are often festooned with a simple red ribbon and hung on the tree awaiting the lucky taster and a cup of coffee or cocoa on Christmas morning.

Christmas tree farms stand ready to make homes holiday festive

One of the best ways to observe the holidays is to get out to one of our local Christmas tree growers and buy a fresh-cut Christmas tree. There are several excellent Christmas tree growers in the area, ready to sell you whatever kind of tree you want.

Buying from local growers has several advantages:

  • You can buy a fresh-cut tree that will hold its needles longer.
  • You can go out into the grove of trees and pick out the one that suits your family and fits your home.
  • You have the fun of taking the family and letting them be part of the decision of buying just the right one.  For some families, it is an annual tradition to get our and select and cut your tree.
  • Then it can be an educational experience for children to see all those trees and learn how they are grown.  They will understand that they are renewable, that is more can be planted to replace one that has been cut.

Some local growers have heated facilities where they serve hot chocolate and cookies or some other Christmas favorites. Some will take you out into the grove in a wagon or trailer and help you pick out and cut your tree.  When you get your tree back to the shed or barn, they may put it on a shaker to shake off all the old dead needles. It is much cleaner when you take it into your home and set it up. They may also have a bundler that wraps the tree in twine to make it easier to carry home.  What they have to help you may depend on the size of the operation and number of trees to sell.

Growing Christmas trees is a year-long job. They can’t be just stuck in the ground and then harvested six or seven years later as a beautifully shaped tree ready to market. Once they are planted, the little seedlings need some tender loving care.  Weeds and grass must be mowed from around them two or more times a year.  Insects can be a problem. Army worms, for example, can move in almost overnight and ruin a planting of young trees. Pesticides need to be applies as soon as signs of them appear. Shaping or pruning the young trees starts when they get some growth. This is usually done several times before they are old enough to sell for Christmas trees. Dry weather can effect the growth and color.  Some growers are able to do limited watering and some are not. They have to let nature take its course.

Selling the trees is a short season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So extra people may need to be hired to help customers select and bring in their trees.  Some growers will cut a few to have on hand when a family doesn’t want to go out into the grove. Seasons that don’t provide a lot of snow and are rainy and dreary can affect sales. Customers don’t like to get out in the wet weather to buy their trees. They don’t get into the Christmas spirit.

Locally grown trees are a product of the area agriculture and contribute to the local economy. So when you buy one, you are helping the growers as well as the economy of the area.

Submitted by John Parker, an Ashtabula County Farm Bureau member and an independent agricultural writer for Farm Bureau.