Our Northwest

Tree farmers urge consumers to "Keep it Real"

Thursday, December 15, 2016by  Jon Osterberg

young child next to tree at tree farmChristmas tree farmers are launching a "Keep it Real" ad campaign to stem the loss of market share to artificial trees.

It's an effort relevant to the Northwest – the nation's top Christmas tree-producing state is Oregon, with Washington ranked No. 6.
Industry research shows 31% of buyers get a real tree each year while 30% buy an artificial one. The rest of the market either vacillates or doesn't have a tree each year.

The challenge for tree farmers is that artificial trees can last many seasons. Also, it's tough for farmers to respond to market fluctuations since real trees take eight to 10 years to grow to a suitable size.

Because the Keep it Real campaign targets millennials in particular, much of it is channeled through social media. Ads stress that trees are renewable crops that benefit the environment by converting carbon dioxide into oxygen.

So which are you? If you celebrate the holidays, what stands inside your home – a real Christmas tree, or an artificial one?

We cover all bases at our house. Growing up, my family always bought real trees from a nearby lot. My wife and I did likewise until we had kids. After our oldest turned 2, I started our "Family Day" tradition by driving us to a tree farm near North Bend, where we cut Grand Firs for a few years before upgrading (and paying more) to cut Noble Firs.

family day tree hunt Family Day evolved once the kids grew enough to tramp through the woods and hunt for a tree that we'd cut with a permit from either Snoqualmie National Forest ($10) or Wenatchee National Forest ($5). We put up two trees each year right after Thanksgiving – one from the tree farm for our family room, and one from the forest for our living room.

We also bought a 3-foot artificial tree for our master bedroom long ago. Combined with our fondness of outdoor lights, massive Snow Village indoor displays, mantle greenery with lights, wreaths and the like, you can see why friends call us the Griswolds each season.

Happy holidays!

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