Women in Ag: Oh Christmas Tree

As a child, the Christmas season officially began in our house with a trip to the tree lot. We took our time, looking at every tree to choose the perfect one.  Once decorated, it would spend about a month in our house, the centerpiece of our holiday decorations.

I recently visited a Christmas tree farm in western North Carolina and let me tell you, I had no idea how much time and effort farmers put into growing trees.

It can take 12 to 15 years for a tree to reach harvest size. By the time a tree is sold, it has been visited approximately 150 times. The NC Christmas Tree Association’s website has a great description of the work that goes into growing Christmas trees.  

Fraser Fir Christmas trees

We’ve always had Fraser fir Christmas trees, which make up 98% of the trees grown in the western part of my state. Farmers in eastern North Carolina can’t grow Fraser fir, instead growing Norway spruce and other trees suited to the warmer climate.

I’ve heard people say they don’t buy a live tree because of the cost. When I take into account the number of years a farmer spent growing my tree and the  many visits it took to get a healthy tree to the perfect shape, all of a sudden that tree isn’t so expensive.  

Live trees are also environmentally friendly. Did you know 1 acre produces enough oxygen for 18 people every day?  For every tree a farmer cuts, at least one is planted in its place.  

When it’s time to take the tree down, it can be recycled. One town I lived in would pick trees up at the curb, then chip them into mulch. Trees can also be sunk in ponds, offering a place for fish to live.

This past weekend we went to the local tree lot and purchased our NC-grown tree, continuing the tradition of having a live tree for our sons. This year, I had a better appreciation for the farmer who grew the trees as we searched for our perfect one.

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