Safety and trees for all
As Jacob Hemphill planned for the holiday season, he wasn't sure what to expect.
"We were worried about if we'd have customers," said Hemphill, who owns a Christmas tree farm on Redland Road outside of Estacada, as he discussed the unusual circumstances presented by 2020.
Across East Multnomah and Clackamas counties, some Christmas tree farms are closed for the season, while others have modified their operations to facilitate safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hand sanitizer and face masks have become additional necessities as community members search for the perfect holiday centerpiece.
The coronavirus outbreak has brought multiple changes to Hemphill Farms, 20324 S. Redland Road. Though the farm is not offering its typical visits with Santa, train rides or refreshments, weekend hayrides are still available.
"The biggest thing is safety for everybody. We're keeping things as clean as we possibly can," Hemphill said.
Visitors and staff are asked to wear face masks, hand sanitizer is available and saws are wiped down in between uses.
Though not many have used it so far, Hemphill Farms is also offering a curbside pickup program. Customers can call ahead to specify what kind of tree they want, and staff will deliver it to their car.
Hemphill described the farm's opening weekend, Nov. 28 and 29, as "crazy busy."
"People are excited to get outdoors, and excited to do something," he said, noting that the farm has not seen a decrease in customers this year. "People have been thankful that we're open."
Seth, Madison and Cooper Dunn of Portland were a few of the farm's customers who were excited to find a Christmas tree. It was their first year at Hemphill Farms, but the family cuts their own holiday tree every December.
"We've got to keep the Christmas spirit alive," Madison Dunn said, discussing the value of keeping up holiday traditions during the pandemic.
This is Hemphill Farms' third year offering their u-cut program, which feature noble fir, Douglas fir and grand fir varieties. The farm's 2020 season runs through Sunday, Dec. 20. Weekday hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and weekend hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"We like people being happy to get a tree. Making them happy makes us happy," Hemphill said. "We're going to get through this year, just like everything else."
Harrison's Tree Farm
Also persevering to help people spruce up their holidays at home this year are the folks at Harrison's Tree Farm in Sandy.
This year, because of COVID-19 precautions, the Harrisons are making their u-cut farm as no-contact as possible. Visitors older than 5 years of age are required to wear a mask, and people are asked to bring their own handsaws. The farm will not be providing handsaws this year. The area where people pay for their trees is marked to encourage social distancing while waiting, and people are also encouraged to distance and stay masked while around others on the farm.
With Harrison's setting on 60-acres, "there's plenty of room for people to socially distance," Kathleen Harrison said, though people are asked to check in before going out to find their trees.
"Being closed also isn't really an option," Harrison said. "We felt we're following guidelines (and) it's one of the few things families can still do this year when so many other things are canceled or curtailed."
The farm is open with noble firs and handmade wreaths available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Firs are $6 to $8 per foot.
For more than 20 years, Kathleen and Roger Harrison have sold u-cut Christmas trees from their Sandy farm, only more recently beginning to offer homemade wreaths as well. It's always been a family affair.
Roger grows the trees while Margaret, Roger's and Kathleen's daughter, makes the wreaths from boughs of the trees, and the whole family takes part in the sales.
Selling Christmas trees has become a family tradition for the Harrisons and getting a Harrison's Tree Farms tree has also become a tradition for several area families.
Harrison said she has two brothers who both had farms before her, one being longtime Sandy tree farmer Bill Knapp.
"When we moved here that was the plan to have a Christmas tree farm," Harrison said. "We have a lot of return customers coming here, but this year we're also experiencing a lot of new customers."
"Seeing all the people and the enjoyment they get, especially the kids, from getting to pick out their tree is what I look forward to," Harrison added. "It's nice to have an opportunity to interact with people, especially during this time."
The perfect tree awaits:
The following farms are open and ready to help you find the tree that fits your family this holiday.
20324 S. Redland Road, Oregon City
48080 S.E. Coalman Road, Sandy
Closed for u-cut Christmas:
Because of the pandemic, and concerns around the well-being of customers, many regional Christmas tree farms made the difficult decision to shutter u-cut tree services this year.
Some notable u-cut closures include:
Trout Creek Tree Farm, 39426 S.E. Trout Creek Rd.
Shriver Farms, 33109 S.E. Oxbow Dr.
Dolan Creek Farm, 13490 S.E. Orient Dr.
Deep Creek Tree Farms, 20601 S.E. Tara Lara Lane
Tracy's Tree Town U Cut, 21885 S. Eaden Rd.
Redland Family Farm, 19400 S. Redland Rd.
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