If you have been a faithful follower of the Green Space then you know that the most ecological and environmental thing to do regarding Christmas trees is to buy live cut rather than artificial.

Christmas Tree Farms take up space, often on the outskirts of town, putting land into useful production that is often threatened by urbanization and development. Tree Farms support complex ecosystems including providing wonderful habitats for wildlife. While these trees are growing, foxes, raccoons and other critters find a place to live and raise their families. Christmas trees themselves are the perfect places for nesting birds. I always think it’s good luck to find a bird nest in my Christmas tree. Tree farms also boost the local economy by providing jobs for people who help with tree maintenance.

To delve more deeply into this, I journeyed to a local tree farm, Fort Osage Christmas Trees – fortosagechristmastrees.com – and talked with one of the owners, Kim Luke. I found Luke in her gift shop, where folks come in to get oriented to the farm before going out on their tree search. The shop has hot cocoa and smells of cinnamon. Of course, there are lots of things to buy, homemade wreaths, gifts, even dog collars made by family members.

Luke shared with me that they purchased the tree farm because of its proximity to the city, 20 minutes from downtown Kansas City and 10 minutes from Blue Springs. She spoke of the local jobs they bring to the economy and the thousands of hours in full-time and part-time labor that go into mowing, planting, shearing, spraying, and tagging trees. They also order live cut trees from Michigan for folks who prefer Frazier and Douglas firs. Labor for that effort includes the driver and crews to unload. Then come weeks of tree sales, labor to staff the gift shop, shakers (a super-cool machine that shakes loose needles off of trees) baggers, and tie-on crews.

As I was speaking to Luke, a group came in to pay for their tree. Steve Casey with his family said this was their first time to the farm. He said they decided to come, “to do it the traditional way – cut your own; we’ve never done that.” Casey also stated they wanted to get the “holiday started right.”

Luke said that this year more than any other she can remember, they are getting a lot of first-timers.

“People seem to want to return to traditions, to nature, to outdoor activities. They say they just don’t want artificial trees anymore,” she said.

Visitors enjoy seeing them working together at this family-owned business. Family it is, right down to the grandchildren who dress as elves and “help” in the gift shop. Of course, there is the Grandchildren Loft above for when they get worn out and need to nap in grandma’s quilts and pillows.

I hope you are able to return to a more simple life and try a live cut tree this year. You will be glad you did.

Lynn Youngblood is the executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association.