Foresters says real trees add Christmas magic

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 14-Dec-2010

Oklahoma foresters and promoters of agri-tourism contend, with some evidentiary support, that a real Christmas tree has a magic all its own, with evergreen branches bringing a fresh, spicy aroma into our homes for the holidays.

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry grows up to 150,000 pine seedlings each year at the Forest Regeneration Center near Goldsby, located just south of Norman and just off Interstate-35.

The center is run by Oklahoma Forestry Services. Many of the tiny trees from the center are sold to Christmas tree farmers across the state, businessmen who carefully tend and shape them for years until the trees are ready to be harvested.

Choosing a tree from a local farm supports private growers and boosts the state’s rural economy, a recent press release from the department maintained. While the trees are growing, they produce oxygen, create wildlife habitat and control erosion.

After the holidays, a real tree can be recycled as mulch for spring gardening. Of course, a new crop of seedlings for future holidays will take the place of trees harvested this year.

Many Christmas tree farms offer more holiday fun than just tree cutting. Santa’s Forest, near Ponca City, offers wreaths and crafts in addition to live trees to choose and cut. Complimentary hot cocoa, cider and coffee keep guests warm and in good spirits.

At Owasso’s Tree and Berry Farm, visitors can cut a fresh tree or take home a Leyland cypress grown in a 15-gallon container. A hay ride, hot cider and candy canes make it a perfect family outing.

Sorghum Mill Christmas Tree and Blackberry Farm near Edmond has a wide variety of choose-and-cut trees including Virginia pine, Scotch pine, loblolly pine, Leyland cypress, Colorado blue spruce and more. Additional garlands, wreaths and boughs are perfect for holiday decorating.

John Knight, founder of the Sorghum Mill Christmas Tree and Blackberry Farm, has provided families the opportunity to choose their own trees for more than 30 years.

“It’s about the experience,” Knight said. “We do this for families to come out together and enjoy.” Families can walk through parts of the 44-acre farm in search of the perfect tree. Knight promises to make the experience even sweeter with hot chocolate, cider and candy canes.

The recent release from the Agriculture Department asserted: “An outing to a local Christmas tree farm is a perfect way to add magic to the holiday season.”

Christmas tree farms are relatively easy to locate on the agritourism web site.