Farm Fresh: Beyond the Supper Table

Tree toppling tips and how to tell the difference between a fir and a spruce.

Finding that perfect Holiday tree is a fun, fresh air-filled tradition for many families and friends; make this year one to remember! Headwaters boasts seven (yup, SEVEN) Christmas tree farms, each with their own unique story and experience. Find your picture-perfect tree, whether it’s 5 feet or 14 feet tall, and rival the Christmas swag of Kevin McAllister’s family.

On the fence about fresh vs. faux?

  • Unlike artificial trees, real trees can be recycled as part of nearly every municipal or regional recycling program. Chances are, the mulch or compost you buy in the spring is made with Christmas trees!
  • Studies have shown that one acre of Christmas trees helps filter the air, purifying over 13,000 kilograms for airborne pollutants each year, along with providing the daily oxygen requirement for as many as 18 people!
  • Real Christmas trees are grown specifically for harvesting, and most tree farms have trees at multiple stages of growth to avoid over-harvesting and clear-cutting
  • Purchasing real trees is a sure-fire way to put money back into local businesses, directly stimulating local economy. Many artificial trees are produced overseas using materials that will ultimately end up in landfill.

Christmas trees in the farm market for sale in holiday season

Elliott Tree Farm in Hillsburgh has been growing Christmas trees since 1890, so they know a thing or two about decking the halls. If you require a tree stand, decorations or other décor ideas, stop in to their circa 1850’s Heritage Barn gift shop. Make a day of it, and bring your hiking boots; Elliott’s is dog friendly and has trails that loop around beautiful tree groves. After working up an appetite, treat the family to lunch at the food truck and a warm hot chocolate. Pro Tip – follow Elliott Tree Farm on Instagram for $5 off a beautiful holiday wreath! A bonus for all tree-huggers: for every tree harvested, Elliott Tree Farm plants 2 new trees. Adams Tree Farm in Amaranth is another fantastic spot to stop for an afternoon of festivities. This family-run farm has been growing beautiful trees from saplings since Gary and Dee purchased the property in 1988. With hay rides, and a charming craft shed, customers can browse the shelves while sipping that hot beverage, enjoying the cozy comfort and casual atmosphere while chatting with friends and neighbors.

Take a lovely ride through the country and hop on a hayride at 75-acre, family-run Wintersinger’s Farm where you can take your time picking the perfect tree. After the friendly staff shake and bale it for the trip home, warm up in their snack bar with hot chocolate or hot apple cider at family friendly prices. Don’t leave without visiting the Wreath Boutique for fresh handmade wreaths and garland for that finishing touch. Dread the carpeting of needles on tree take-down day? Also available are easy tree removal bags for minimal fuss when the time comes!

Seeking an eco-friendly option this year? Visit Laura’s Pesticide-free Tree Farm in Mulmur, and discover the difference a pesticide-free tree can make. Many hybrids or non-indigenous trees have trouble surviving fungus and bugs, whereas the local and indigenous trees grown at Laura’s have developed pest survival skills over generations! Laura hand prunes each tree with love and care to create fullness. Visit the expanded Craft Shack this year, and enjoy complimentary hot chocolate for kids of all ages! A friendly reminder that Laura’s is Cash Only.

Due South is Rudolph’s on Airport Road in Mono Mills. Fresh and full Balsam Fir and Spruce trees are available from November 23rd, 9:00am until dusk, along with wagon rides and trim-and-bale services. Euro Tree Farms, 90-acre farm and year-round landscaping company, is venturing into the Christmas tree business for the first time this year!

Duck, Duck, Spruce?

Unless you’re an arborist or in forestry, you’re probably scratching your head wondering which type of tree to get. Species of trees available depend on whether you’re buying a freshly-cut or a cut-your-own tree; check online to see what’s available when you’re deciding which of Headwaters’ awesome farms to hit up!

Spruce (white & Norway)

Green to bluish green needles ½ to ¾ inch long; stiff needles; good needle retention.

Spruce (Blue and Myer Blue)

Dark green to powdery blue; ¾ to 1½ inches long; very stiff needles; good needle retention; symmetrical; branches are very stiff and support heavy decorations.

White Pine

Soft blue-green needles 2 to 5 inches long in bundles of five; very soft needles; retains needles throughout the holiday season; very full appearance; little or no fragrance; less allergic reactions as compared to more fragrant trees.

Fir (Balsam and Fraser)

Dark green needles ½ to 1½ inches long; soft needles; great needle retention; nice scent; pyramid-shaped; strong branches which turn upwards.

Tips for Tree-toppling

  • If you’re bringing Fido, call or look online to make sure the farm is dog-friendly. If so, keep your fur baby on their leash at all times (yes, even if they have 100% obedient and are 1000% angelic).
  • Dress warmly. We know, we know, you hear it all the time, but we’re talking about riding in sleighs and crawling around to chop down your perfect tree. There is almost nothing a hot chocolate can’t fix, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
  • Leave your chainsaw at home there, Leatherface; most farms provide handsaws for the day!

hatchet cut down tree

Tips for Tree Care

  • Make a fresh 1 inch cut in the trunk and place immediately into water. When a tree is cut, sap seals the trunk much like a cut flower and a fresh cut allows the tree to drink water.
  • Avoid letting the water level fall below the bottom of the stump. Watch the water level closely for the first 24-48 hours as this is when the tree will drink the most water.
  • Locate your tree a safe distance from heat source such as heating vents or televisions; the heat will dry out the needles on your Christmas tree.
  • Ensure all lights and cords are in good repair with no broken bulbs or bare wires. Always turn Christmas tree lights off when you are not at home. Never use candles or any other open flame near your Christmas tree.

Most tree farms offer free shake-and-bale services, hot chocolate, cozy bonfires and operate from the last weekend in November to the second-last weekend in December. Check out farm websites for full details! Good Tidings from YDH!

 

By Emily Quinton, Headwaters Field Manger, Central Counties Tourism
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