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Cut your own Christmas tree this season

U-cut tree farms offer fragrant firs, fun holiday experience

Walking among rows of Christmas trees at Schilter Family Farm in Olympia. Photo credit: Kristi Berry

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Create a new tradition this season at one of the local Christmas tree farms. Bundle up the family, take an old-fashioned wagon ride and wander down rows of perfectly shaped evergreens to pick the ideal tree for your home.

If this sounds good ... you live in the right place.

According to the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association, the Pacific Northwest is the world's largest grower of Douglas firs and is well known for its Noble and Grand firs. There are more than 500 Christmas tree growers in Oregon and Washington, and two are just a short drive from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Schilter Family Farms

Open Nov. 24 to Dec. 18, Schilter Family Farms, located just off I-5 exit 114 in the Nisqually Valley, has more than 25 acres of Douglas, Noble, Fraser and Grand firs. On the weekends, take a tractor-drawn hayride out to the fields to cut your tree. Back at the farm, soak in the festive atmosphere. Warm up with espresso, hot cider or cocoa and indulge in homemade fudge or cider donuts. Visit the 140-year-old barn to see the lighted Nativity scene, and snap photos with Santa, who stops by the first three Saturdays in December from 12:30-3:30 p.m.  

"Cutting your own tree gives families the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, pick a tree that is special to their family and make memories that last a lifetime," said Schilter Family Farm owner Stephanie Schilter. "Families love hunting for the perfect tree. It's lots of fun."

When describing their trees, she said the Fraser and Noble firs hold their needles the best and have a traditional Christmas tree shape. The Fraser fir is a bit narrower for smaller spaces. Many people like the blue color of the Noble needles, while the Grand fir has longer needles and is the most fragrant. The Douglas fir has that iconic Christmas tree shape and is the most economical choice.

Hunter Family Farm

A family farm tradition since 1948, Hunter Family Farm in Olympia grows Douglas, Grand, Nordmann and Noble firs as well as Norway spruce. You can choose and cut your tree Nov. 24 through Dec. 23. On weekdays, grab a saw and tree cart and walk out to the fields. On weekends, wagon rides are available.

After you've selected your tree, hang out and enjoy the picturesque setting. Play a game of checkers on their giant checkerboard, browse through the holiday shop, sip on hot cocoa or coffee and venture out to say hello to the reindeer. Old Saint Nick also pays a visit here the first three Saturdays in December from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"Of course, we love real trees over artificial," said Sandy Hunter, owner of Hunter Family Farm.  "Trees are renewable and can be recycled since they are 100 percent biodegradable. They are lead-free, smell great and absorb carbon dioxide from the air. If cared for properly, they will last an entire season."

To ensure your tree stays beautiful, follow these simple tips.

1. Put it in water as soon as possible after being cut so sap won't seal off the stump.

2. Always keep water in your tree stand. It'll drink a quart to a gallon each day.

3. Don't place your tree too close to a heater or fireplace. Direct heat can dry it out.

Both farms also cut trees daily, so you can take home a fresh tree even if you don't feel like chopping it down yourself.  To learn more about locally grown trees, visit

Schilter Family Farm, 9 a.m. to dusk, daily, 141 Nisqually Cutoff Rd. SE, Olympia, 360.459.4023,

Hunter Family Farm, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., weekdays; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., weekends, 7401 Yelm Hwy. SE, Olympia, 360.456.0466,

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