“O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
much pleasure doth thou bring me!
for every year the Christmas tree,
brings to us all both joy and glee.
o Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
much pleasure doth thou bring me!”
If you’re looking for Christmas magic, you won’t find it in a box of metal branches and synthetic needles, as realistic as they might look these days. A pre-cut tree, sold road-side or in front of your favourite supermarket chain? We’re getting closer, but to really tap into the spirit of things, you’ve got to head for the hills and fell your own young pine or spruce or fir.
For those of us without the four-wheel drive necessary take us up past the regional parks and city owned land that frown on tree harvesting at any time of year, Christmas tree farms are a welcome alternative.
“We have something a retailer can’t provide. It’s an experience,” says Ted Corbett, owner of the Woodhaven Tree Farm up on the Rutland Bench in Kelowna.
Ted, a retired orthodontist, started his tree farm about 15 years ago after taking out his fruit orchard. After trying hay for a short time, he turned to trees – landscape trees in the warmer months, and Christmas trees leading up to 25 December.
While they’re not much more lucrative than orchard trees or hay, Ted says the trees are less work, and it’s a feel-good niche.
“Whole families come up here to choose their tree. They get a ride in the wagon and then head out, talk and choose a tree they all like,” Ted describes.
They’re welcome to bring a saw and cut their own tree, or watch while Ted or one of his workers do it for them.
“It’s making good memories for the kids,” Ted says. “It’s a wholesome family experience. I love watching them leave with just the right tree – they’re just so happy. Often they’ll turn and wave as they drive away.”
In addition to making someone’s Christmas just that little bit more merry and bright, infusing homes with their fresh, sweet fragrance, Ted notes that each acre of his trees supply enough oxygen for 16 people. They also act as air filters, absorbing pollutants in the atmosphere.
And, he points out that fresh trees – wherever they’re purchased – are environmentally friendly since they’re biodegradable and a renewable resource.
Ted’s farm offers Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Concolor Fir (commonly called White Fir or Colorado Fir), Grand Fir, Nordman Fir, Noble Fir, and Alpine Fir. Once cut, he shakes each tree in a little machine to rid them of loose pine needles (and the occasional bird’s nest), and bales them, to make transport easier.
While he does so, the family can warm up around a little fire, with a cup of something hot, and plan their next holiday adventure.
– Words and photos by Lori-Anne Poirier
A special thank you to our models Rob and Kelly Philip and their two young charges