Local Christmas Trees Are in High Demand

December 3, 2018

Morgan Dawson, 19, front, and Dawson Brady, 19, carry the Christmas tree they picked out at The Gardner's Spot in Leominster while Ashli Brady, 25, follows behind. It's been a busy start to the tree-buying season, as growers are reporting an increase in demand over recent years. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

Local sellers and growers of Christmas trees are reporting an increasing demand for their product this season, but they’re also warning that it might become harder to supply the region with enough trees in the future.

Dan Pierce, owner of Pierce’s Tree Farm in Lunenburg, said this has been the wettest year he’s seen in his four decades of growing trees, leaving many farms flooded and too muddy for people and vehicles to easily navigate. Despite this, he said farms like his are busier than ever.

“I believe the demand has grown because people are realizing how it’s a lot of fun to come to a farm and enjoy that Norman Rockwell Christmas,” he said. “The demand is there, it’s just a matter of the logistics of getting younger generations into it.”

As Pierce explained, the region’s appetite for Christmas trees isn’t shrinking, but the amount of land on which the trees are grown is.

“With the price of land in Massachusetts, it’s pretty hard to get a farm going, whereas in other parts of the country land is a dime a dozen,” he said. “A lot of the members of our association are 66 and older and very few younger farms are popping up. That’s one thing that will create a shortage in the future.”

John Hussey, owner of D.J. Hussey Farm in Townsend, said the value of Massachusetts real estate has made parcels once ripe for tree farms like his now more profitable as sites for housing developments.

Hussey’s farm has 35 acres of trees, however he’s had to limit tree cuttings to pre-arranged appointments this year.

Like Pierce, Hussey admits that the traditional experience of cutting your own tree is much sought after by customers, but his farm is also experiencing the added boost from serving as a filming location in the 2017 TV movie “The Spruces and the Pines.”

“We were incredibly busy on Black Friday, and Saturday was so bad that I had to go to the end of our street and turn people away,” said Hussey.

Pre-cut trees are now being sold at D.J. Hussey Farm to keep up with the number of customers, but a shortage of trees in some parts of North America has increased prices.

“Nova Scotia had a serious frost that took out a lot of their trees, so they can’t ship this year,” said Pierce.

Joe Firmani, whose non-profit Operation Service provides free trees to veterans and active military personnel, buys all of his trees pre-cut and said he is feeling the effects of the shortages.

“Our price went up a little this year because it is tight, but we were able to get out there early and secure two loads of trees,” he said.

Though Firmani and his partners at The Gardener’s Spot in Leominster are only giving out trees to people with military affiliations, they’ve also noticed more people coming to get trees this year.

“We gave out 436 last year and right out of the gate we were on pace to meet that,” he said. “We’ll probably go 600 this year, easily.”

Follow Peter Jasinski on Twitter @PeterJasinski53.

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