By Dianna Stampfler
This year, make the selection of your Christmas tree a real family experience, by visiting one of the hundreds of farms throughout Michigan that have kept the tradition of fresh-cut trees alive and growing.
Michigan actually leads the nation in the harvesting of Christmas trees, with more than 3.18 million cut each year for sale around the world. More than a dozen varieties are grown here, including several types of pine, spruce and fir. The top five counties for Christmas trees, accounting for nearly half of the 54,000-plus acres, are Wexford, Missaukee, Oceana, Montcalm and Kalkaska. In all, more than 20 percent of the national market of Christmas trees comes from Michigan.
Michigan Christmas tree farmers have grown their businesses beyond just the selection of the tree. Many now offer horse-drawn wagon rides, petting zoos with live reindeer, refreshments, gift shops and other holiday decorations, as well as visits with Santa, to round out the experience.
At Butler Tree Farm in Dowagiac, you’ll find a craft & gift shop, bake shop, petting zoo, hand-crafted log furniture and a year-round campground featuring log cabins and a covered pavilion. A scenic wagon ride takes you past the campgrounds and through covered bridges to the fields to find your perfect Christmas tree.
Trim Pines Farm in Holly features “choose and cut” as wells pre-cut Christmas trees. On Saturday and Sundays, horse-drawn wagon stake you out to the fields in search of your holiday tree. Afterward, plan to visit with Santa and his reindeer.
After an afternoon of tree searching, warm up in the restored 1860s barn and enjoy free hot chocolate and a visit with Santa at Mutch’s Hidden Pines Christmas Tree Farm in Lapeer. You can also learn how to make wreaths and evergreen centerpieces. Holiday gifts, such as stockings, shaker boxes, baskets, bird houses, hats and decorates are on sale as well.
In addition to providing the centerpiece for family holiday celebrations, Christmas trees are important to Michigan’s environmental well-being. Trees reduce wind and water erosion, improve water filtration into the soil and absorb carbon dioxide. For each tree that is harvested, another is planted – guaranteeing the future of the industry for generations to come.
To locate a u-pick tree near you, or for tips on how to care for your fresh-cut Michigan Christmas tree, visit the Michigan Christmas Tree Association at www.mcta.org.
Reprinted from the November/December 2006 issue of Michigan BLUE Magazine.