Tradition continues at one of Michigan’s oldest Christmas tree farms

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Dense foliage, strong branches, pleasant fragrance.

Choosing the right Christmas tree is important.

As the center of attention in many homes during the holiday season, millions of Americans each year work hard to choose the perfect evergreen.

What most consumers don’t think about, however, is how much effort goes into the trees before they’re ready to bring it home.

As the owners of one of Michigan’s oldest Christmas tree farms, Jeff and Brook Jakeway understand how important it is to them to grow a tree that meets the expectations of families around the world.

It takes about 13 years to grow a Christmas tree.  North Star Farm has hundreds of acres of trees in different stages of growth.  Every tree needs regular maintenance to ensure optimal results.

“The seedlings we plant will become Christmas trees surrounded by families on Christmas morning,” Jeff said.

“The Christmas tree industry is not just about growing and cutting down a tree. It’s about having a tree that lives up to its destiny to have children and families around it at Christmas time. ”

The dense foliage, strong branches, supple needles, dark blue-green color, and pleasant scent led Fraser Fir to be widely used as a Christmas tree.  It is the most popular type sold at the North Star Christmas Tree Farm.

North Star Christmas Tree Farm founder and Brook’s grandfather, Cliff Gearhart, began harvesting and selling wild trees at a young age during the Great Depression.

His love of trees continued and he was one of the very first to plant Christmas trees in Michigan and also one of the first to grow Fraser and Douglas firs, according to the family.

The first generation of North Star arborists.  Founder Cliff Gearhart (far right) and his wife, Lucielle Gearhart (left).

North Star has sold over a thousand Christmas trees each year to other businesses for sale and to customers from across the country to cut one down for decades.

“We are a third generation family business that sets high standards so that our customers receive the best trees possible,” said Jeff. “As I choose which trees to sell each year, the good ones wave their branches towards me. as if to say, ‘Hey, choose me, I did well this year.’

Trees that are not up to standard are used as seed trees for the following year.

The average cost of a tree in North Star is between $ 50 and $ 65, Jeff said. “Grandfather” Gearhart began selling them in the 1930s for 0.25 cents apiece.

In the 1980s, the business began to branch out into landscaping and retailing and is also known as North Star Gardens.

It takes about 13 years, and a lot of love and care, to grow a Christmas tree.

Jeff said the shortage of Christmas trees this year in some places is the result of farmers not planting seedlings during the 2008-2010 recession.

“That’s really what hurt them. The key to growing Christmas trees is that you need to plant them every year. As soon as you stop planting, you’re going to have a loophole in the system, ”he said.

North Star has hundreds of acres of trees in various stages of growth and thousands of trees to choose from in a variety of sizes and species, including the popular Fraser Fir. Every tree needs regular maintenance to ensure optimal results.

The favorite variety of the Jakeway family is the concolor fir, according to Brook. The concolor has small, narrow needles, good foliage color, good needle retention, and a pleasant shape and aroma.

North Star Christmas Tree Farm Brook owners (left) and Jeff Jakeway (right) with their two children stand in the field of trees of their favorite variety, the Concolor Fir.

In addition to the ‘choose and cut’ farm, they offer hot chocolate, children’s activities, photo ops and hay bale walks.

Live reindeer will be on site from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 11.

North Star Christmas Tree Farm is located in Wolverine and their phone number is (231) 525-8884. They are open seven days a week. For more information, visit northstargardens.com/christmas-tree-farm/.


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