Does the choice have you stumped?
If your family can come to a general consensus on whether it’s going to be a real or artificial tree going in the stand this Christmas then you are off to a wonderful holiday season. It’s that time of year for the debate over real or faux boughs. But as more tree “putter-uppers” begin to understand about what makes for a more environmental choice to “green” up their holiday, Ah! turned to a few Christmas tree experts to get their advice.
Dragging a dusty box down from the attic doesn’t conjure the same romantic holiday images as a walk through the rows of pristinely planted Christmas trees at your local tree farm with a hot cup of apple cider in one hand and your measuring stick in the other. But if you are a family with allergies or start your holiday decorating as soon as you take off your poppy, then an artificial tree is likely your best bet. However, if you are trying to tap into your inner Greta Thunberg and hoping your carbon footprint is a size smaller this year, a real tree will help you achieve those goals.
Throughout the north shore of Nova Scotia you will find many Christmas tree farms and their owners ready to help you find the perfect tree. Some invite you to cut down your own, while others will have them pre-cut and ready to throw in the back of the pick up or tie to your roof racks. There are even a few that deliver. The beauty in the tree farm is just that… it’s a farm. The trees are grown for a purpose and when they are harvested for the holiday more trees are planted. Most farmed trees fulfil their Christmas destiny between seven and ten years of being planted. It’s a fact that new trees are more efficient at cleaning carbon from our atmosphere. It’s the reason why many communities and cities have made big commitments to plants new trees in the immediate future.
Brian Archibald has been working his own lot since 1979 after practicing cutting wild trees on his father’s property and is now registered with the North Eastern Christmas Tree Association. “Different people have different likes,” he says about helping families find their perfect tree. Battling the early frost as well as the invasion of the tussock moth and gall midge, Archibald sold approximately 850 trees last year and is hoping to sell 2,500 in the coming month.
For the last 40 years, Angela Cruickshank has been a proud supporter of MacLeod’s Christmas Tree Farm in Stellarton, “It was fun to introduce this tradition to my husband when we got married and now to share with our son as he grows, at the age of nine last year, under the watchful eye of his father, he cut down our tree himself.” Cruickshank always chooses a fir tree and enjoys the smell it fills their home with over the entire holiday season.
Adrian Samson of Treeland Christmas Tree Farms in Truro has been selling at the same location for 16 years and is now seeing his third generation of customers returning for his trees and trusting Samson to choose them. Typically cutting them himself, Samson will try to accommodate those who want to add to their memory by cutting their own tree from his 150 acres. Offering the ever popular Balsam Fir as well as some White Pines, he selects prime cones each year to ensure better quality, colour and improve the overall look and longevity. With a history of training agricultural students on how to grow Christmas trees and grade them, working in the woods keeps him busy and active.
As a forest technologist, Samson highlights, “When we cut a tree we plant a tree,” and that his trees only travel eight kilometres on his lot whereas artificial trees are shipped across the world. They even donate their leftover trees to the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre to continue providing homes and food to wildlife after they’re cut. Other leftovers are chipped back into the forest to enrich the soil and have trees grow again within four years. Samson advises not to leave your tree in a furnace room or under a heat pump. White Pines, he says are better for allergies and can last from October right through to January. He offers the “shake and wrap” service to rid your tree of loose needles and pesky insects before delivering to your vehicle.
A real tree can keep on giving long after the decorations are down, if you’re patient and your timing is right, you can plant a branch that continues to grow years later. While most communities offer a pickup with the regular garbage to compost them, you may consider leaving them in your own backyard or delivering your tree to a neighbourhood farm who has a use for it.
Supporting our local economy and making the right selection should be a bonding moment and help create memories, no matter your choice. Cruickshank simply states, “Hunting through the fields for the perfect one, we have always found a beautiful tree.” Enjoy the process of finding your perfect tree!
To find a Christmas Tree farm convenient for your family please visit: pickyourownchristmastree.org/CNNSnorthern.php#