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Work by Hand: Cut-Your-Own Organic Christmas Trees

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sold sign on evergreen treeThe Ullrich family has been visiting Christmas tree farms for the past eight years.  They proudly picked and sawed down their white pine together on a warm December weekend.  The Robinson family made an adventure of finding the perfectly shaped Norway spruce for their living room.  “This is something we can do as a family; but it’s so hard to agree,” shared Ashley Robinson as they finally settled on their tree.

Ullrich Family

Robinson Family

When I questioned tree farm owner Steve Lockett about pesticide use around these trees, he explained that he hadn’t found that necessary. On the three acres where his family’s been growing and selling you-cut Christmas trees for years, the retired nuclear scientist takes a minimalist approach.  If beetles eat the top of a tree, the tree typically grows back.  He admits that bagworms have been pesky on the blue spruce.  He eventually discovered that Norway spruce have been the most dependable for growing near the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee.  Lockett said simple mowing can keep weed growth down while seedlings are getting started; then mature trees shade out weeds on their own.

The Lockett family’s tree project is too small to bother with organic certification at Buttermilk Farms.   But dozens of other tree farms scattered throughout the United States now use organic and sustainable growing methods.  Previously, Flour Sack Mama took you to North Carolina to visit the farmer who claimed to have the only certified organic Fraser fir tree farm in the nation at that time. It’s recommended that if you can’t find an “organically grown” tree you at least find one grown locally with sustainable methods.

Steve Lockett of Buttermilk Farms

It was a balmy 62 degrees when our family chose our tree to cut at Buttermilk Farms. We spent less than $40 for a six-foot evergreen just right for our home.  “Some years we lose money,” shared Lockett, “and some years we make a little bit.”  The experience included a free hayride too.

dad carrying Christmas tree with kids behind


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