Christmas Tree Farm
By Ann Purmell; illustrated by Jill Weber
Like millions of other families across the country we were one of those that purchased one of the 25-30 million REAL Christmas trees hauled home atop car tops or dragged home this year.
There are 350 million Christmas trees currently growing on Christmas tree farms in the United States, according to the National Christmas Tree Society! The trees have their own society, yet!
We bought ours at a family tree farm run for generations by Ed Dart and a group of relatives and workers in the town of Southold, New York. As soon as you drive in, there is a cozy outdoor fire sending the welcoming smell of wood burning to your nostrils. Ah… Added to this is the scent of warming cider and hot cocoa to make the hunt for the perfect tree into a perfect adventure for the whole family. Step into a 200 year-old barn and you’ll see fresh wreaths being fashioned from greens, holly and such that are harvested on this tree farm.
But the adventure is over till next year, right? Not for Ed Dart and company. In fact it’s just the beginning of prep for NEXT Christmas and the eager families that have found their tree at his family’s farm for years! And tree growers start early so the cycle of tree growing can continue from year to year; and in a way that is respectful of the environment.
When I picked up “Christmas Tree Farm”, I remembered Ed Dart and the other growers across this country that make Christmas trees a reality in homes either with lofty furs in a great room or small table top trees tucked in a corner.
And, in perfect alignment with a year that has been rife with pandemics and politics, there seems to be a bit of a Christmas tree SHORTAGE! It seems there are a host of reasons for this, but mainly because of the California wildfires, though of course that is not the only place that Christmas trees are grown. They may also come from Canada and North Carolina. An article that I read recently detailing the dearth of trees in New York City this year opined that fewer trees would be available on the streets of the city.
At a time when people need a bit of holiday cheer, the picture book can allow young readers to see and read what the process is like to grow the green grandeur called a Christmas tree that makes its way into your home.
Ann Purmell has written a picture book for kids that will explain the beauty AND hard work that goes on before the owner/Grandpa in “The Christmas Tree Farm”, switches on the glowing Christmas lights, posts the OPEN sign and swings open the doors of The Christmas Tree Hut. What has proceeded this magic moment is a year-long effort by some very dedicated people who value what they do.
Thanksgiving through Christmas sees the coming to fruition of their long hours of planting, pruning, trimming and tagging trees as to size and type. Some are spruce, pine or fir. “Some of these are older than Grandpa,” as Ms. Purmell points out.
It’s November, and Grandpa and his two young helpers are sizing up the current crop of trees as to which ones will be felled this year and sold to families for the coming season. Yet, always near the felled tree is planted a new seedling that will continue the growing cycle. Good to know!
Ms. Weber’s drawings are a picture postcard perfect renderings of the farm with families wandering through the woods for their prized and plump tree. Eager eyes and gloved fingers are seen running here and there pointing at and sizing up each tree till the big decision is reached.
What most families do not realize, and what Ms. Purmell carefully narrates in word and picture, is the year long process starting in spring that brought the Christmas trees to this moment and to these families. Hundreds of seedlings arrive in the spring about the size of an adult hand. Some of these planted seedlings will be lost to disease, insects rabbits and deer and so many more must be planted than will make it into full adult trees.
Summer sees the trees with shaggy coats in need of a trim that shapes them into Christmas tree perfection.
Grandpa has a long pole with different colored rings at progressive heights that show how tall a tree is and how much it will cost. The tallest are seven feet tall and it takes more than 15 years for it to grow that tall!
Young readers will love the scene as we peek in the window of the tree farm as it closes on Christmas Eve and the family decorates their own tree. AND one outside is filled with popcorn and cranberries, birdseed wreaths and suet filled stars for the animals.
Ms. Purmell has a whole page identifying Christmas trees of all types and her last page is filled with Christmas Tree Lore, interesting tidbits of info for kids, and a timeline tracing the history of the Christmas tree.
This book makes me want to go and revisit Ed Dart and his Christmas Tree Farm in January, and see what’s doing – and thank him for growing our family tree. Some that we bought will be replanted at our farm so we get to watch the growth process ourselves.
If you read this, “Thanks Ed!” Below is a link to Ed’s Farm or I’m sure your family has a favorite of its own! Also, there is a link below that to an article that appeared recently in the Northforker Magazine that elaborates further on the glories to be found at Dart’s this time of year!
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