This past weekend is typically the busiest for tree farms across Iowa, as families shift their focus from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Robin Miller works at the T&S Christmas Tree Farm in rural Hawarden, which offers cut-your-own pines, firs and spruces. Miller says real, not artificial, trees make a beautiful centerpiece for your home during the holidays.
“The live tree experience that you get here is more about the family tradition,” Miller says. “It’s more about having an activity to do with your family that isn’t going to cost you any more than if you went to the tree lot in town but you get a lot more for your money.”
Miller offers some advice to Iowans who might be selecting a tree to cut down for the first time. “They always look a lot smaller in the field than they are in your house. If you have an eight-foot ceiling, you need to be looking for a seven-foot tree,” Miller says. “Keep it away from the heater inside, have the temperature lower in the house, if you can. Water the tree, make a fresh cut.”
Jerod and Heather Vedral drove some 25 miles from Sioux City with their family to cut down a tree at the Hawarden farm. They say it’s a 20-year tradition.
“Just the experience of cutting it down and being out in nature and spending time with the family, making memories,” Heather Vedral says. “They like cutting it down themselves. He’s 18 now so he’s been doing it since he was a baby,” Jerod Vedral says.
Heather Vedral admits they’ve had to learn from their mistakes. “We’ve gotten a little bit too tall of a one a couple of times and had to cut the bottom and some of the branches off, so, yes, that has happened,” she says. The T-and-S Christmas Tree Farm sells about 11-hundred trees each year, while planting 2,000 trees each spring.
Miller says it takes 6 to 7 years for a tree to grow to the desired height. Iowa has about 190 Christmas tree farms.
(By Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)