Lifestyle

Burnett: Nothing fresher than a Christmas tree grown in the Okanagan

Christmas trees are beginning to show up at the big box stores now, which might lead you to wonder when they were cut to have them show up so early.

For the most part, these trees were imported from the U.S., usually Oregon where millions are grown and shipped across North America.

The Oregon Christmas tree harvest begins in late October and peaks in mid-November. Why so early you ask?

In order to get the trees processed packed and shipped to their customers, that harvest schedule allows the time necessary for Christmas sales.

British Columbia also has a large Christmas tree industry, concentrated mainly in the Fraser Valley, but it pales in comparison to Oregon.

When I was working in the garden centre industry both with my own family business and at Byland’s Garden Centre, we focused on selling Canadian trees, not only for freshness (trees are harvested much closer to Christmas) but support our local economy.

Back in the early days, it was difficult to find growers that produced trees similar to the U.S. brand, so the temptation to import was too much to resist initially.

But as time went on the Fraser Valley growers got on board and began to produce an even better quality product that the imports.

Not only the quality and price were very competitive, the fact they were cutting local trees three weeks to a month later than the imports made the decision to buy locally even easier.

Byland’s and other locally owned garden centres still maintain the tradition of selling B.C. grown Christmas trees.

I encourage you to see the difference in quality selection and service when shopping for a tree at these stores.

During the past 10 to 15 years, the Christmas tree industry has expanded into the Okanagan Valley, with several growers producing quality trees now even closer to home.

One such grower is Woodhaven Tree Farms, where you can choose from at least six different varieties—Douglas fir, Nordman fir, Grand fir, Noble fir, Fraser fir and my absolute favourite the White fir.

When you visit Woodhaven Tree Farms, you not only get to actually choose your own tree just before it is cut, you can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and a warm bonfire while waiting for your tree to be cleaned and bundled for convenient transport.

Ted Corbett created Woodhaven Farms several years ago and I have been helping him with cultural advice since the beginning.

His passion for Christmas trees is infectious and there is no better way of creating Christmas memories for the kids than a visit to his farm.  For more information such as hours of operation go to his website Woodhaventreefarms.com or call 250-826-8733.

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