Oh, Christmas tree
At the Historic Kirchem Tree Farm, families can explore until they find the perfect tree to cut, enjoy a wagon ride through the greenery and sip on hot chocolate.
Cher and Reg Tollefson have been at the helm of the farm at 19723 S. Bakers Ferry Road since 1992. It covers 113 acres, 20 of which are dedicated to Christmas trees. Other portions are leased out to several local vegetable farmers.
"It's been great. We've loved it," Cher said.
"We've always liked Christmas trees," Reg added.
The farm along the Oregon Trail is named after the Kirchem family, who settled the land in the late 1800s. It's been a Christmas tree farm since 1968. Prior to that, the focus was on potatoes and dairy.
Visitors to the farm can find douglas fir, norway spruce and noble trees. The Tollefsons specialize in natural trees that have not been sheared or sprayed.
"I love seeing the shape of natural trees. It's not just a cone," Cher said. "A lot of people want natural trees."
Describing the trees as a "long term and difficult crop," the Tollefsons noted that there are several challenges associated with growing them, including seedling shortages and dry summers.
"Because we don't do much with herbicides, there are more weeds, and more competition for water," Cher added
The average holiday tree takes anywhere from 7-11 years to grow to its full size. Typically, the off-season at the Historic Kirchem Farm consists of removing weeds and minimal fertilizing.
The Tollefsons have appreciated forming relationships with people seeking Christmas trees, whether they are long-term or new customers.
"There are a lot of repeat customers, a lot of people who have been coming here long before we bought the place. And there are a lot of new customers," Cher noted.
Along with the opportunity to explore the field for the perfect tree, the farm also offers free wagon rides, hot chocolate and a variety of gifts available for purchase in the warming shed.
Cher added that there's a memorable element to a Christmas tree a family has cut themselves.
Though it isn't always easy growing long-term crops like trees, the Tollefsons find many aspects of their work rewarding — particularly connecting with other people.
"You go in after working all day in the cold, and there's always somebody who thanked you for being here and growing natural trees," Cher said.
She added that the best part is, "On Christmas morning, thinking of the trees we've spent years growing, and having people have those trees in their home."
Next year, the farm will also also offer pumpkins.
"We wanted a one season crop versus 8-10 years for the trees," Cher explained.
With the rise of artificial trees, the Tollefsons believe there's something special about a live tree a family cuts for themselves.
"Plastic trees are totally out of the question. I hate to see it going that way," Reg said.
"We live in such a commercial world," Cher added. "We have the trees and the land, and we like to share it, have families come out and have kids running around. It's a really fun experience for families."
The perfect tree awaits
There are several options for both self-cut and pre-cut Christmas trees in the Estacada area, including
Historic Kirchem Tree Farm, 19723 S. Bakers Ferry Road. Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends through Sunday, Dec. 9. For more information, call 503-539-8602.
Bob'z U-Cut, 21735 S. Springwater Road. Open 10 a.m. to dusk weekdays and 9 a.m. to dusk weekends. For more information, call 503-631-4585.
Tracy's Tree Farm, 21885 S. Eaden Road. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, call 503-631-7320.
Fanno Farm U-Cut, 18500 S.E. Amisigger Road. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends. Along with traditional trees, the farm also offers trees colored with biodegradable paint. For more information, call 503-310-7109.