MINERAL WELLS- There is nothing like a real tree for Christmas, said the owner of a local Christmas tree farm.
Terry Dunn, one of the owner's of Evergreen Christmas Tree Farms, said they have a lot of trees available this season.
''I have a lot of extra trees this year and bigger trees this year,'' he said. ''I will have to do some dealing to get rid of them.''
Photos by Brett Dunlap
Terry Dunn and George Casto of Evergreen Christmas Tree Farms bale live Christmas trees at their Mineral Wells location in preparation for the Christmas season.
Evergreen Christmas Tree Farms, with locations on Chesterville Road in Mineral Wells and on Viscoe Road in Pettyville, is one of the largest choose-and-cut operations in the area. People regularly come out during the Christmas season, go through the trees and cut the one they want for themselves.
''As far as this season goes, we have White Pines, Scotch Pines and Norway Spruce,'' Dunn said. ''The trees look really good this year. Prices are about the same as they were last year.''
They start with a base price of $27 with trees priced lower and higher than that, depending on the size and condition of the tree.
Officially Evergreen opened this weekend, but it has been doing work for people and businesses over the past week or so. Some people needed a tree before Thanksgiving because that is the only time the entire family was available and that is when they want to decorate the tree.
Every year, Dunn is seeing more people changing from artificial trees to live trees. However, there are some who have to go back to artificial trees for one reason or another.
''There is a transition back and forth continually,'' Dunn said. ''I think overall, we are seeing a few more people going for real trees.''
Publications have discussed the benefits of live trees and recycling programs have made it desirable for people to have live trees again.
Gene Bailey, past president of the West Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association, said there are around 100 Christmas tree farms in West Virginia. His farm is near Beckley.
Many operations are choose-and-cut farms. Some still have cut trees being sold wholesale. Trees popular around the state include Fraser Fir, White Pine, Norway Spruce and Canaan Fir.
Real trees are good for the environment, Bailey said.
''I read once that one acre of Christmas trees provides enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe,'' he said. ''Christmas trees make good use of the West Virginia hillsides.
''Where other crops have had trouble growing on some of the state's hilly terrain, trees used as Christmas trees have taken to it and flourished. Also, there are still people who love real trees,'' he said.
Officials with the West Virginia Division of Forestry have said tree farms grow a continuous selection of high-quality trees that bring the beauty and aroma of the forest to people's homes. While growing on these farms, Christmas trees stabilize the soil, protect water quality and provide cover for wildlife, they said.
Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide while emitting fresh oxygen, Forestry officials said. The trees also beautify the landscape with their classic shape and lush foliage something not found on artificial trees. The trees can be easily recycled after the holiday, they added.
For many, it is about starting and maintaining traditions.
''People like live trees in their homes,'' said Helen Morrison, who owns the Caywood Christmas Tree Farm near Marietta with her husband, Bob. ''For many, it is a tradition.
''It is just a fun day for them to go out together and have fun. People can choose the same artificial tree year in and year out or they can change it up. A real tree is going to be different every year.''
When people come out to pick a Christmas tree, they are creating memories with their loved ones, she said.
''We are trying to create an atmosphere,'' Morrison said. ''It is nice to see the kids, the moms, dads and grandparents together. It is nice to see them happy and having fun.''
Caywood Christmas Tree Farm, at 2940 Caywood Road, started its season the Friday after Thanksgiving and will continue until Dec. 23. It offers Scotch Pine, White Pine, Fraser Fir, White Spruce and Colorado Blue Spruce.
Trees can cost $15 and up.
''It depends on the tree,'' Morrison said. A 6-foot tree can run between $15 and $25 while a 15-foot tree can be around $100.
Rain is always a problem in people deciding if they will come out to get a tree.
''Hopefully, we will have some good weekends,'' Morrison said.
Caywood Christmas Tree Farm is open weekends from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and noon to 6 p.m. during the week.
Evergreen Christmas Tree Farms' Pettyville location is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. The Mineral Wells location is only open Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until dark.
Every year they get a good mix of people coming out for Christmas trees, Dunn said.
''As a rule, we are seeing more on the family side,'' he said. ''Young parents want to introduce their kids to something new and something they can do each and every year.
''We have gotten a lot of generations of kids coming out. I have had people coming out for over 20 years. There are people who came out here as kids who are now bringing their own kids out. This is just a great business to be in.''