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Families head for the hills for the perfect Christmas tree



For many families, the Christmas season begins before they even finish digesting their Thanksgiving dinners.

Oregon’s bounty of Christmas tree farms fuel traditions of hot cider and the hunt for the perfect tree, and dreams of decking the halls are becoming a reality in many local homes. OUTLOOK PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Tanna Williamson poses with her daughters, Olive, 3, and Lucy, 1, at JTB Christmas Trees, where she and her family have cut down their trees for the past six years.

Rather than opting for the convenience of getting a Christmas tree in a nearby parking lot, why not have the full experience of visiting local families who make their income by spreading Christmas joy.

The Gresham-based Bradshaws, and the Hendershotts, of Boring, are two such families.

JTB Christmas Trees

What was supposed to be a trip to the Clackamas Town Center mall in search of a surround-sound system instead led Terry and Shari Bradshaw down a much different path.

“It was a fluke. We fell in love with the property,” Shari Bradshaw said of the tree farm she and her husband bought 15 years ago after spotting it on their way to shop.

Renamed JTB Christmas Trees to honor Terry’s father, the tree farm has remained a popular spot for local families as they seek out their Christmas centerpiece. Located at 18124 S.E. Richey Road, the four-acre farm is filled with noble, grand and Douglas firs.OUTLOOK PHOTO: KATY SWORD - A little tree-hunter and his grandfather scour the nobles at 4Js Tree Farm in Boring.

“It’s so much fun,” Shari said on opening day, Friday, Nov. 27.

Operating the tree farm helps pay for the home, but the money isn’t why the Bradshaw’s keep up a tradition they started in 1979.

“You meet so many different kinds of people,” she said. “Every once in a while you get a grump, but most people are just so happy and excited.”

Watching the children light up as they receive a candy cane doesn’t hurt either, Shari added.

What she learned, though, is gift shopping has to happen early. There’s not enough time once the tree season starts. They also learned their stock needs to be supplemented with pre-cut trees. But recently, this year included, there’s been a shortage in supply.

“We’ve been doing pre-cuts for about seven years, just to fill the void of the most popular height,” she said. OUTLOOK PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Olive, 3, takes the first chop at her familys chosen Christmas tree.

Last year, for the first time, JTB was forced to close early.

“We closed early after 12 days,” Shari said. “We should have done it in years past, but my husband has a hard time saying no to people.”

A new website — designed by their son — has helped pull in more business, she noted. And with more business, the Bradshaws continue to make improvements and add amenities for their guests. The free popcorn and cider are what keeps people coming back.

“It’s the whole experience,” she said.

For more information about JTB Christmas Trees, visit jtbchristmastrees.com.

4J’s Tree Farm

Jodi and Jay Hendershott and their two children, Jadelyn, 13, and Jared, 10, run 4J’s Tree Farm in Boring. Although they never thought to take on a Christmas tree farm, the couple made the promise to keep the farm going after they bought the property from an elderly man about five years ago.

“It was quite the undertaking,” Jay said with a laugh.

After the previous owner let some of the trees grow wild when he was no longer able to take care of it, the five acres of growing trees behind the Hendershott house resembles more of a forest then a nursery.

“It’s a good place for people to come if they don’t want to go up in the mountains, but still want that experience,” Jodi said.

The farm grows only noble firs, which the Hendershotts don’t trim, and caters to a specific Christmas décor need.

“People come out because they like the trees,” Jay said.

The tall, sparsely limbed trees — reminiscent of the forlorn Christmas tree from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” — and are often popular with Portland residents of Victorian-style houses, he added.OUTLOOK PHOTO: KATY SWORD - Noble firs grow at random at 4Js Tree Farm in Boring.

He said what separates their farm, located at 12862 S.E. 352nd Ave., from any other is “the thrill of the hunt.”

Although Jay and his wife, who works at Kelso Elementary School when she’s not growing trees, have been replanting about 600-800 seedling trees a year on their property, there is a large gap between the towering firs and the recently planted trees, and families often spend a lot of time searching through the trunks for the perfect tree. But with an overabundance of trees that can be made shorter, 4J’s farm was able to continue offering trees this year even when some of their neighbors couldn’t.

Several local tree farms are unable to stay open throughout the season because of the hot, dry summer that caused some damage in the business.

“We’ve had a lot of loss,” Jay said. “It was a bad summer.”

The Hendershotts hand-watered their young trees during the hot months, but even then still lost about one-third of the seedlings planted in February.OUTLOOK PHOTO: KATY SWORD - Two successful tree-hunters carry their noble fir to their car after chopping it down at 4Js Tree Farm.

Another thing that draws customers to 4J’s Tree Farm is the family atmosphere. The farm provides free hot chocolate on the weekends and sells wreaths and ornaments handmade by Jadelyn. 4J’s also provides saws and help to transport trees to a car if needed.

Santa is even known to make an appearance at least once during the season. OUTLOOK PHOTO: KATY SWORD - The Hendershotts grow only nobles at their farm in Boring, popular for their resemblance to Charlie Browns chosen tree.

Keep up with the Hendershotts during the holiday season by following the farm on Facebook at facebook.com/4jsTreeFarm/.

O' Christmas Tree

- Hamburg 4D Tree Farm

36731 S.E. Hauglum Road, Sandy, 503-668-8007.

With limited trees this year, large grand and small nobles, the farm will only be open for one weekend. Assistance is available. There is a warm fireplace on a covered deck, free apple cider, hot chocolate, chili, candy canes and free crafts for families. Table arrangements and swag are for sale.

Hours: 9 a.m. to dusk Dec. 5-6.

- Rainy Mountain Farms

49400 S.E. Marmot Road, Sandy, 503-351-0965.

U-cut and fresh-cut Christmas trees. Bring your family on a weekend for s’mores, hot cocoa and a petting zoo with sheep, goats, pigs and other farm animals. Locally-sourced handmade wreaths also are available.

Hours: 10 a.m. to sundown on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, or by appointment during the week.

- Knapp Farms

41160 S.E. Highway 26, Sandy, 503-668-9613.

U-cut or fresh-cut, noble and grand fir trees.

Hours: 9 a.m. to dark Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Christmas.

- 4J’s Tree FarmOUTLOOK PHOTO: KATY SWORD - Jay and Jody Hendershott, with their daughter Jadelyn, 13, own 4Js Tree Farm in Boring.

12862 S.E. 352nd Ave., Boring, 503-913-3819.

U-cut old-fashioned noble firs. Saws available. The farm also offers wreaths, boughs, handmade ornaments and hot chocolate.

Hours: 9 a.m. to dusk every day through Dec. 24.

- Dutcher’s Tree Farm

33755 S.E. Compton Road, Boring, 503-663-4127.

Open this year for flocked trees only. No U-cut. Wreaths, candle arrangements and decorations also will be for sale.

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, through Dec. 24.

- JTB U-Cut Christmas Trees

18124 S.E. Richey Road, Gresham, 503-667-3315.

U-cut nobles, grand and Douglas firs; pre-cut nobles.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends and 2-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

- Deep Creek Garden Center

2330 N.E. Hogan Drive, Gresham, 503-492-2100.

Pre-cut noble, Douglas, grand and Nordmann fir trees, wreaths, garlands and flocked trees.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

- Thompson Farms

24727 S.E. Bohna Park Road, Damascus, 503-667-9138.

Pre-cut Douglas, grand and noble fir trees, large variety of fresh wreaths.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

- Olcott’s Christmas Trees

43120 S.E. Deverell Road, Corbett, 503-695-5219.

U-cut or we-cut noble trees; hot cider.

Hours: 9 a.m. to dusk weekends; weekdays by appointment.

Tree farm alternatives

- Boy Scouts of America Troop 586 will sell Christmas trees at the corner of Division Street and Kane Drive behind the 7-Eleven convenience store. OUTLOOK PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Ayodeji Onafuwa, 3, his father Dimeji, his brother Tomiwa, 6, and their mother Bimpe, of Happy Valley, celebrate their successful day at JTB Christmas Trees in Gresham.

The tree lot is open from 4-9 p.m. weeknights, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays.

Natural noble fir and shaped grand fir trees for $20 each. Proceeds go to Troop 586 to pay for summer camp. Additional contributions are appreciated, encouraged and tax deductible.

For more information, call Steve Wagner at 503-572-5946.

- The Mt. Hood National Forest offers permits for cutting Christmas trees up to 12 feet tall from the forest.

Permits are available at the Zigzag Ranger District, 70220 E. Highway 26 in Zigzag, which is open from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be reached at 503-622-3191. Permits also are available at the Clackamas River Ranger District, ACE Hardware in Sandy, the Hoodland Thriftway and the Estacada Tackle Shop.

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