There are eight tree farms in the greater Kawarthas region this year where you can harvest your own locally grown tree, with three other farms just outside the region.
Closed last year, both Murray Tree Farm in Apsley and Little Lake Christmas Trees in Colborne are reopening for the 2022 season. There’s also Barrett’s Christmas Tree Farm in Cobourg, Oscar’s Tree Farm in Campbellcroft, J & D Christmas Trees (under new ownership) in Colborne, Potash Creek Farms in Omemee, Dawson Tree Farm in Millbrook, and Oake Family Tree Farm in Cavan-Monaghan Township.
Just outside the Kawarthas region in Clarington, you can harvest your own tree at Powell’s Trees in Bowmanville, Prestonvale Tree Farms in Courtice, and Hope’s Christmas Tree Farm in Hampton.
Both Blackstock Christmas Tree Farm in Blackstock and Kol Tree Farms in Roseneath are permanently closed.
Like everthing else these days, Christmas trees are not immune from inflation, with tree farms paying more for fertilizer, fuel, labour, insurance, and even seedlings. According to Shirley Brennan, executive director of the Canadian Christmas Trees Association, you can expect to pay an average of 10 per cent more for your tree this year. Making matters worse is an ongoing shortage of trees, including from the impacts of climate change such as droughts.
For local tree farm addresses, available tree species, hours, prices, and websites, check out our map:
Why buy a grown-in-Ontario Christmas tree?
Besides helping the local economy (more than 600 Christmas tree farms in Ontario generate around $12 million), farm-grown natural Christmas tree have other benefits.
Christmas trees are one of the most environmentally friendly crops. It takes up to 10 years to grow each tree and, during this time, the trees remove carbon dioxide and airborne pollutants from the atmosphere (up to 13 tons per acre!) and provide protective havens for a wide variety of birds and mammals. It’s also a sustainable crop — for every tree that’s harvested, at least three seedlings are planted in its place.
Buying a tree from a nearby local farm is also more environmentally friendly than buying one shipped in from another part of the country, such as Quebec or the East Coast.
Natural Christmas trees are also 100 per cent recyclable and biodegradable. Most municipalities — including those in the Kawarthas region — collect discarded natural Christmas trees and chip them for use as mulching materials.
Discarded natural trees can also be used as bird feeders, wood products can be made from their stems, or they can be used as wildlife cover in fish ponds and woodlots.
Common types of Christmas trees
If you do decide to harvest your own tree this year (or buy a pre-cut one), here’s a quick primer on the most common tree species available:
Balsam Fir – The Balsam Fir holds its dark-green needles well and is a good choice if the decorated tree will be left standing for a longer period of time. Balsam fir branches work well for lighter Christmas ornaments, and the tree has a strong fragrance.
Scots Pine (Scotch Pine) – The Scots Pine is a thick and hardy tree. It resists drying and holds its needles well over the holidays. However, the needles are tough and very pointy.
Fraser Fir – A Christmas tree that’s become very popular in recent years, the Fraser Fir is known for holding its attractive dark blue-green needles and its pleasant scent. Fraser Firs are generally more expensive than other trees as the species has a much longer growing cycle.
Norway Spruce – The traditional Christmas tree in Britain, the Norway spruce is attractive but has a tendency to drop its needles, particularly towards the end of the holidays — especially if the tree is not cut fresh and kept properly watered.
White Spruce – The dense foliage and symmetrical proportions of the White Spruce make it a very beautiful Christmas tree. The tree has a strong scent and its strong slender twigs hold ornaments well. However, the White Spruce is very thirsty and must be watered regularly to prevent it from losing its needles.
Caring for your tree
After you get your tree, follow these tips to keep it fresh and safe:
- If you aren’t setting up the tree immediately, store it outdoors. Keep it in a protected area, away from the wind and sun, to help the tree retain its moisture (an unheated garage is ideal, particularly to keep the tree free of snow). If you plan to store it outside for several days, make a straight cut across the butt end of the tree about one inch from the end, place the butt end in a container of water, and store the tree upright.
- When you bring the tree into the house for decorating, make another fresh cut across the trunk, about an inch from the original cut.
- Trees can drink up to four litres of water per day, so be sure to use a large stand that can hold that much water. Check the water level daily and supply fresh water as needed. Don’t allow the water level to drop below the bottom of the tree, as a seal will form on the bottom and the tree will stop absorbing water (you’ll have to make a new cut).
- Use only fresh water. Don’t add sugar, molasses, bleach, honey, floral preservatives, or other substances to the tree’s water. Experts agree these additives do nothing to maintain the freshness of the tree.
- Place your tree away from fireplaces, radiators, television sets, and other sources of heat. Turn off the tree lights when you leave and before you retire at night. Under no circumstances should you use lighted candles on a Christmas tree.
- A well-maintained tree should normally remain fresh at least three to four weeks before drying to an unacceptable level. Test the dryness of the tree by running your fingers across the needles. If they break easily or fall off in your hand, the tree is dry and should be discarded.
This story has been updated to include Oscar’s Tree Farm in Campbellcroft.