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Getting your tree: Where is it coming from this year?

Noble_fir_tree
I'm working on a project doing some freelance writing for a yet-to-be-launched green site, and I've been learning way too much about the environmental impact of everything I do (as if it wasn't already enough!). One thing I've discovered recently is that Christmas trees are often grown with lots of pesticides. I mean, I'm not eating the tree, but it's likely that my 17-month-old, Monroe, is getting his fair share of pine needle ingestion.

So I thought more about where to get my tree this year. In last year's discussion about Christmas trees, we noted a lot selling organic, "local" Christmas trees on 25th and SE Division (it's still there this year). I asked friends to recommend organic tree sellers and was advised to just buy anywhere -- after all, Christmas trees are a huge industry in Oregon (so not getting a local tree would be ridiculous) and they "grow like weeds" so very few pesticides are needed. On the other hand, this article points to widespread herbicide and fungicide use to obtain "perfect" trees.

I decided that we would get it through Cafe au Play, who's selling trees to raise funds to help open the planned family-friendly coffee shop and community center at 58th and SE Division. The trees are from Timber Ridge Tree Farm in Molalla and were very well-priced -- we paid $20 for a very lovely, big grand fir. I was unable to find out whether or not Timber Ridge used many pesticides; maybe next year we'll use capella's great idea: buying a new potted tree every year and plant it; after a few years we can start cutting the older trees down (and buying a new one to replace it) for our *own* Christmas tree farm. That sounds wonderfully "green." Where did you get your tree? Was its green-ness a factor in your decision?

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We also bought ours from Cafe au Play -- beautiful tree for a great cause!

After reading about this farm on this website, we cut our tree there for the third year in a row this year. I believe this year it was $30 – you pick the size, etc.
From their website…”We approach Christmas tree farming a little different than most other farms - we don't use any pesticides or herbicides. “
Gemmill Family Farm
22672 SW Kruger Rd.
Sherwood, OR 97140
(503) 625-9399
http://www.gemmillfarm.com/index.html
Dress for the weather. They are friendly and provide a handsaw, board for kneeling on while cutting, and they shake the tree with an electric shaker to get rid of the loose needles, etc.

If you want to "rent" a tree (they're not yet organic but are working on it), these folks look great - you get a live tree delivered, and they'll pick it up after the New Year and go plant it. http://www.livingchristmastrees.org/
Only in PDX!

We got ours from the forest. Buy a permit for $5, hike up the mountain, and chop it yourself. Great fun!

We also got our tree at Gemmill Family Farm. We did the http://www.livingchristmastrees.org/ last year and decided that the non-native last minute selection and the reality that the tree would most likely not live after being planted did not warrant the expense. Good concept, but not convinced it really works; supporting a local family doing the right thing made more sense.

we bought ours from a family tree farm at the base of mt. hood that we have visited for years. this was the first year that the environmental impact (besides the cutting down of a tree part!) came to mind but i didn't have time to do much research before we had planned to get it.

i asked one of the owners as he cut the tree and he said the fertilize each tree once a year by hand and apply herbicide between the trees twice a year. the herbicide is to kill the weeds (lots of thistles and blackberry vines all over the ground) so people can get to them. i have no idea if what he told me should make me encouraged or discouraged. i didn't really feel like taking the discussion much farther in that moment but will do more research before next year.


Ok, to some this may sound lame, but to us it has become a sort of cheezy tradition. We walk across the street, literally, to Fred Meyer, buy our tree and all grab a branch and carry it the half block home. We eat free little bitty donuts, sing, stop traffic, and have the whole rest of the day to decorate and enjoy the tree. With two little ones it is one easy tradition during a busy time of year.

I bought a potted tree last year with all the best intentions.

Then I left it on the back porch for a month without any water and killed it.

We are traveling this year..But my in-laws have a fake tree that they swear I'll love!

We bought a living tree this year and found out a week later through Portland Nursery that you can only have it indoors for a max of 7 DAYS! I was totally disappointed. Now I know that buying a living tree takes research and we consider this a learning experience but we won't do it next year without a better plan. Now I know why all of our other friend's living trees also died but no one seemed to know about this 7 day rule. Also you can easily shock them. They need to sit on your porch for a few days then you can bring it in the house but it needs to stay away from the heater. The farm we bought ours from not only left us to fend for ourselves on the care of our tree but they also ripped so much of the roots from the tree and threw it into a bucket that I don't think even with proper care it would make it if we replanted it. Of course we will try and replant it after Christmas but our hopes aren't too high that it will live.

We have been using the same potted Norfolk Pine for the last 4 years with no problems. For 11 months out of the year it stays outside and for the month of December it is inside. When we bought the tree it was about a foot tall and it now stands about 2-3 feet tall. We absolutely love it and it requires nothing other than water!

We've been getting our Christmas trees from the Century Road Tree Farm in Estacada for a couple years now. It's a U-Cut place, but they provide a cart for you to bring your tree up to the front, they shake all the loose needles off, they'll bale it for you if you want, Christmas music is playing, hot cider and coffee are provided to warm you up and there are candy canes for the kids. Even in pouring rain, it's a great time for all of us. Here's their info:

Century Road Tree Farm
24828 S. Century Road
Estacada
503-209-5356

Open 9 a.m. to dusk Saturdays and Sundays. Call for an appointment on weekdays.

Noble firs. U-Cut, with shaker and baler services. Coffee, cider and candy canes.

I bought a fake tree a few years back when my father was staying at my house, recovering from open heart surgery. He had allergies, and it was the kind thing to do to have a tree that wouldn't send him into sneezing fits. It's in my garage--I don't think I've used it since.

With a crazy work schedule/workload this year, a kid with a crazy school/social/extracurricular schedule, crazy weather and me trying like crazy to cut back on spending, I think we'll pull the fake tree out of the garage, rather than buy a cut tree. Let's just hope my east-facing garage door isn't frozen shut come this Saturday, when I anticipate finally having time to do the tree.

My family drives out and cuts down our own tree, this year we attepmpted to go to this great farm that had the "experience" with a santa, animals, a real reindeer, etc umm that was a mess it was very commercial and expensive so we ended up finding this cute little farm ran by a sweet old man. He did this on the side of his property it was a fun experience the tree was dirt cheap ($20) and beautuful!

Next year though we are getting permits and doing the old school thing in the woods. Alot of locals don't use pesticides we are lucky in that way here is Oregon. I recently read that the whole live tree thing was not really neciassary b/c this is a whole industry that is (at least in OR) very sustainable. Its an interesting debate but I don't have time for it. To each is own, I would like to do the live tree thing b/c its a neat idea but I just can't commit, plus I have no where to plant the tree!

We also get a $5 permit and cut a tree on public lands (Siuslaw, in our case). The trees aren't "perfect" looking (think Charlie Brown Christmas), but they are fresh and it's a fun activity. I feel no guilt about it - those forests need thinning!

This year we went to a "tree farm" out past Hillsboro which turned out to be someones house with trees growing in the front yard. They also have an apple orchard, and all of it is meant to be Oregon tilth certified organic (xmas trees too). I found out about it doing on online search for pesticide free trees. With 2 small children, one is 3 and very hands on everything, I really wanted to get a pesticide free tree.

Last year we rented a potted tree from Livingscape Nursery in north portland. The tree was smallish but cute (kindof Charlie Brown type), and very inexpensive to rent (15 $ I think it was) and so easy to just pick it up and return it sometime after the holidays. This year we wanted a bigger tree, or we would have done that again.

I got mine at Macys - and it was the best Christmas thing I've done in years. I totally miss the smell of pine, but I DON'T miss the dying needles on the floor, trying to make a string of lights look good, and figuring out what to do with it after it's all over. And a couple of well placed natural wreaths fill the room with the Christmas smell I crave.

We used to get a permit and head up towards Zig Zag, Lolo Pass - and cut our own. Those were some great memories... And they were ALWAYS great, scraggly Charlie Brown trees. But the general public caught on too, and it got terribly crowded on that one-lane dirt road during the season... Maybe again it will become a tradition when our children can walk and enjoy the hunt with us.

We walked to Uncle Paul's Produce on Hawthorne and brought one home on the wagon. It's a great looking tree.

We got our tree fromhttp://www.livingchristmastrees.org/ too. It's totally a "Charlie Brown" tree and we are loving it!!

I have thought about walking down the street to the tree seller on Multnomah Blvd. It's about 2 block away from us, if you count our drive way, and would be an experience worth trying out.

I'm back & loving my live tree again...we did kill last year's tree this summer, we left it in the pot & didn't water enough in the summer. Last year we had a Japonica from Tony's. this year we got ambitious & got a deodar cedar from Portland Nursery--my daughter wants a tree she can climb, and although she won't be able to climb it any time soon I have amazing memories of an ancient deodar at my grandma's that was so much fun to climb, and beautiful photos of my mom as a teen in that tree....my husband & I have been debating where it will fit in our yard! As far as caring for the tree, it really doesn't take much. We close the heat vent nearest the tree, we generally keep our house temp under 70 and I give it a quart of water per day. Portland Nursery also recommends putting icecubes on the dirt in the pot...We always keep our trees inside way longer than recommended and so far so good. The Alberta Spruce is one that can be kept in a pot for years-- we had one for 3 years and ours put up with being inside for over a month & being ignored while I was in the hospital having a baby!

we cut ours off the mountain. you're only allowed to cut under the powerlines and if we don't, PGE will send a crew to have it done (this happened this last year). at least by cutting our tree from under the lines, it has a purpose (even if it's some weird, religious based tradition) as opposed to simply being cut to accommodate our disgusting overuse of power.

we've been cutting our tree up at the base of mt. hood for my whole life (dad, mom & sister). we (hubby and girlies) go every year now with my folks and my sister and it's a blast! we generally fight the whole time, but the random snow ball fights, dinner at clamity janes and constant disagreeing seems to make for some good memories. i think...

my dad told us that when he was a kid, his mom would plant a new christmas tree every year and eventually, she was able to harvest them from her back yard every year. this makes a ton of sense and it didn't seem like her back yard resembled anything remotely close to a christmas tree farm because she had them planted throughout the yard and it would only be a few years before they'd be ready to do their job for the holiday.

there is nothing more "green" than an organic and living tree that you can plant when you're done. for our family, this holiday is about celebrating nature and mother earth, so the thought of cutting down a tree is out of the question. we are lucky enough to have friends in the country though, who let us plant the tree when we're done. and you don't have to wait til spring -- it can be done as soon as the soil is workable.

as for the worry about the tree dying while inside -- yes, you can only have it inside for about a week... but if you put ice cubes in the pot, it helps the tree keep its root ball cold. and pick a variety -- like a spruce -- that is hardier to changes and can be in the pot longer.

happy solstice!

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