North Carolina is known for many crops, but the most important crop grown in the High Country is our beautiful Fraser Fir Christmas Trees! Our Christmas Trees are famous for their pleasing color and how well they hold up through the holiday season, and a Fraser Fir has been used as the official White House Christmas Tree 11 times, more times than any other variety of trees.
Fraser Fir trees may take anywhere from 7-10 years to grow to a 6-7′ height, the average height of residential Christmas trees. Taller trees, such as the ones exported to the White House, can take nearly 15 years to reach their stature. Unlike decades ago when a tree would be chopped down from the forest, today’s trees are planted in a sustainable manner, with farmers re-planting up to 3 new tree seedlings for each tree that is harvested.
The High Country of North Carolina has a large number of family-owned Fraser Fir tree farms, and this time of year they are swarming with activity as families come from all over to choose and cut their very own mountain Christmas tree to take home and enjoy. Thanksgiving is right around the corner and already bundled trees can be seen atop vehicles of locals and visitors alike, eager to kick-start the holiday decorating season, with thousands more trees destined to light up homes as the upcoming weeks pass.
Besides offering beautiful trees, many of the farms in the High Country offer garland, snacks, wagon hayrides, bonfires, and more! The Watauga County Christmas Tree Association has a detailed list of all the tree farms in this county, outlining directions to each farm as well as what makes each one unique. You can view that list HERE.
If this is your first time choosing and cutting a Christmas tree, congratulations! You and your loved ones are sure to love making memories at the tree farm as well as enjoying the beautiful tree and pleasing aroma when you get the tree home, but remember that this is a living tree and as such needs proper care, including adequate watering daily. The NC Christmas Tree Association has a good list of tips and reminders on their website, and you can view that list HERE.
Still not sure if a real tree is worth it? Take a look at these facts:
– By buying a tree from a choose & cut farm, you are directly supporting a family’s local small business, not a faceless multinational corporation.
– Plastic trees are manufactured overseas, usually with unsafe labor and manufacturing conditions, and contribute to the pollution of our environment.
– Real Christmas trees contribute to the health of the environment in a number of ways, including absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen and by creating habitats for small animals and birds.
– A real Christmas tree can be recycled back into the earth in a number of ways, whereas a plastic tree sits in a landfill when it is discarded.
– The Choose & Cut industry helps more than just the tree farmers. Often, visitors come from another area, and their visit to the area usually includes dining, shopping, and lodging. Therefore one family coming from a city 2-3 hours away to choose a Christmas tree may help many businesses in a county’s economy.
No matter which Christmas tree farm you choose for your holiday decorating, the memories you make are bound to be cherished forever. For more information about the region’s choose & cut Christmas tree farms, visit the following websites:
And of course, be sure to check out some of the High Country’s great local shopping and dining while you’re here! To really get into the local holiday spirit, don’t miss the other articles in our Christmas In The High Country series! Check out the info about Christmas parades and Dewey’s Bakery Holiday Store.
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All text & photos copyright 2015 Cassandra Ellison, Blue Ridge NC Guide. No portion of this article is to be copied, saved, or otherwise distributed without express written consent. Author received no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this article, and does not endorse one particular tree farm over another.