It’s December and everyone is decking the halls and making the season bright. When it comes to buying a Christmas tree in Kelowna, it seems that more people are turning to the real thing.
Ted Corbett, owner of Woodhaven Tree Farms, says 2016 has been his busiest year so far.
He opened on November 27th and since then his farm has been packed everyday after school and on weekends.
Corbett shuts down the farm every Saturday, but doesn’t seem to think that’s affecting business much.
"Despite that, I think I'm one of the busiest farms in the valley,” he said.
Extra staff is brought in for the Sunday rush, but Corbett encourages everyone to come on weekdays, when it’s less busy.
Visitors can walk around and pick their tree, which is then cut down by him or his staff.
They immediately bring it to a processing area, where a tree shaker shakes out all the loose needles. The tree is then put through a bailing machine.
“The tree might be six feet in diameter but once it goes through the bailer it's only about 18 inches,” Corbett explained. “It makes it so much easier to grab under your arm and take it into your house without knocking the pictures off the wall or scratching the wall.”
There is no charge for either service.
If you’re wondering about price, Corbett said it depends on species and size. Their trees range from $20-$300.
He said about 97% of people want 7-7.5 foot trees for the average eight-foot ceiling.
There are two categories of trees that fit this mold. First, the slow growing trees, like alpine fir and nordman fir, are priced at about $120 because they take about 15 years to grow.
“They’re absolutely beautiful trees,” Corbett said.
The frasier fir, grand fir and white fir trees take less time to grow so you can expect to pay about $80.
Still, Corbett said he often offers to help families out when they need it.
“When people inquire, I also tell them that if it stretches their budget, to come and I’ll find a tree that fits their budget,” he said. “I’ve even given people trees.”
In fact, on Tuesday night, a single mom came to the farm and didn’t have enough money to purchase a tree. After telling Corbett about her young son, he gave her one for free.
When it comes to the benefits of buying real, local trees, Corbett lists many. For one, he said it’s better for the landfills, because they’re not plastic, which eventually have to be disposed of. He calls fake trees an ‘environmental disaster.’
“A real tree is like a crop of corn,” said Corbett. “When it’s all said and done, it’s chipped and it goes back into the soil.”
Besides that, real trees have a scent and atmosphere that make the home more festive and Christmasy, he said, and if it’s chopped fresh and treated right it lasts a long time.
"I've had dozens of women come back and tell me they've redecorated their tree for Valentine's Day,” he said.
Now, Corbett said people tend to come earlier because they can enjoy them longer.
The most common thing that seems to keep families coming back is the time spent together picking out the perfect tree.
“I’m not in the business of selling Christmas trees,” Corbett explained. “I’m in the business of providing a very rewarding and exciting family outing experience.
“Mom and dad come, the kids come, the grandparents come.”
At the farm, he has two quads and wagons with hay so people can ride them out to the trees.
“Hundreds and hundreds of families come here year after year,” Corbett said. “I always say, ‘It’s more important to spend time with your kids than to money on them.’”
If you are looking for a farm near you to buy a tree, there are plenty in Thompson/Okanagan including:
If you’re thinking of heading out to chop down your own tree in the bush, just make sure you have the proper permit and equipment. The Ministry of Forests suggests you bring ropes, gloves, tools, tire chains, a first aid kit, a mobile phone and warm clothing.
What type of Christmas tree will you be putting up this year and where will you get it? Let us know in the comments below.