O Christmas trees
Writing letters to Santa, taking family photos on a holiday sleigh and finding the perfect Christmas tree are just a few of the activities waiting for visitors at Hemphill Farm.
"I like being around people. It's fun for kids, and that's what it's all about for me," said Jacob Hemphill, who runs the farm at 20061 S. Redland Road with his wife, Chelsea.
The Hemphills' organization is one of many Christmas tree farms in the Estacada area. According to data from the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association, Clackamas County is one of the largest producers of holiday trees in Oregon, along with Benton, Marion, Polk, Yamhill and Linn counties.
Though around 92% of all Pacific Northwest Christmas trees are exported outside the region, many farms offer local customers the opportunity to cut their own holiday centerpieces.
"U-cut is a big thing. It's coming back," Hemphill said. "(Families) like to have that outing."
Dean, one of the owners of Mt. Hood Tree Farm at 17472 S. Harding Road and preferred to not use his last name, enjoys watching people find that special tree, particularly when they return for years to come.
"I enjoy the people, and watching the kids grow up," he said.
Mt. Hood Tree Farm also has land in Salem. They purchased the farm on Harding Road approximately 20 years ago. Along with trees, wreaths and garlands, cookies and cider are also available.
At Mt. Hood Tree Farm, customers can choose from Grand Fir, Douglas Fir, Turkish Fir, Nordman Fir and Noble Fir varieties. Hemphill Farm offers Noble Fir and Douglas Fir trees. Both farms will open for the season on Friday, Nov. 29. After their opening day, Hemphill Farm will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, and Mt. Hood Tree Farm will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.
Hemphill encouraged customers to come early in the season to visit the farm before trees sell out for the year.
Christmas trees can take between 8 to 10 years to reach their full size. Hemphill planted the plants for this year's u-cut crop in 2010 and noted that while the trees are growing, he focuses on spraying, shearing and watching for disease.
He added that it's "rewarding" to see families select the trees after he's spent years caring for them.
"It's neat for people to be able to come out, find a tree and sit by the fire," he said.
Many involved in the Christmas tree business enjoy providing customers with a place to make memories during the holidays. For Dean, the best part of his work is the people.
"Everyone here is in a good mood. That's what it's all about," he said.
Hemphill said that one of the most rewarding parts of last year's season was when a child with special needs visited the farm.
"That was the biggest thing for me. I got to take him for a ride in the tractor," he said.
The perfect tree awaits
Along with Mt. Hood Tree Farm and Hemphill Farm, the Estacada area is also home to a variety of Christmas tree farms, including the following:
Bob'z U-Cut. 21735 S. Springwater Road. Open 10:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Nov. 29 through Dec. 15.
Hughes Family Tree Farm, 37151 S.E. Kemp Road. Open 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Nov. 29 through Dec. 1, Dec. 13 and Dec. 15.
Springwater Road Farms, 6430 S. Springwater Road. Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 29 through Dec. 1 and Dec.6-8.
Tracy's Tree Town, 21885 S. Eaden Road. Open daily from 9 a.m. to dusk beginning Nov. 29.
Wild Hare Tree Farm, 34603 S.E. Wildcat Mountain Drive. Open 9 a.m. to dusk Nov. 29 through Dec. 1.
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