Semi-trucks brimming with Douglas, Noble and Grand firs have been rolling down local highways for the past month destined for living rooms throughout the country. The best bet for customers wanting a freshly cut tree, however, is a visit to a local Christmas tree farm.

The Willamette Valley has many options including St. Paul’s Century Farm Christmas Trees and Woodburn’s Franke’s Christmas Trees. Both tree farms offer a variety of uncut trees of all sizes and types for their customers to pick and take home.

For St. Paul tree farm owners Bill and Kaye Gooding, their Christmas tree business has become a way to give back to the community. 2013 marks the third year the Goodings have let St. Paul by: JANIS BRENTANO - St. Paul High School FBLA members Emily Vela, left, Cameron Stone and Sydney Brentano tag a pre-sold tree in preparation for their Christmas tree fundraiser. Hundreds of trees are available for purchase and all profits benefit the club.High School’s FBLA club run all aspects of retail tree sales and keep all of the profits. Customers can choose from six different varieties of Christmas trees spread over 10 acres. Most of the trees range in size from five to eight feet, although there are some 11- and 12-foot trees also.

St. Paul’s popular FBLA club includes more than half the student body and all club members, along with many of their parents, work the Christmas tree fundraiser. Over the past two years, the club has averaged $6,500 in profits each year, according to club adviser and SPHS career education teacher Jeff Hulbert.

“The money is used primarily to send our students to the State Business Leadership Convention held each April in Portland,” Hulbert said recently in an email. “Any extra money is used to purchase things for the student store such as a new cash register and a hot dog machine.”

The Goodings came up with the idea of letting the FBLA run their retail tree sales after deciding they wanted to phase out Christmas trees from their farm. The students have taken charge of every aspect of tree sales, from putting together an advertising campaign to assisting customers with their tree choice and running the cash registers. This is the final year the Goodings will grow Christmas trees and the final year for the fundraiser.

In Woodburn, Franke’s has been a popular Christmas tree destination for decades. With their house nestled amid the evergreen firs of their four-acre farm, this season marks Ron and Jan Franke’s 31st year by: JANIS BRENTANO - Ron Franke of Franke's Christmas Trees in Woodburn has been growing Christmas trees for more than 30 years and advises the best way to ensure you get a fresh tree is to visit a tree farm and have one cut.growing Christmas trees. The Frankes grow a variety of different firs including Grand, White and Douglas, but find the Noble and Nordmann firs are the top two sellers, Ron Franke said.

Franke added the Noble and Nordmann are not only the most popular but also have the best needle retention and last the longest once cut. Although any cut Christmas tree that runs dry in the house will seal up and dry up quickly, he explained. Noble and Nordmann firs also have sturdier branches than a Douglas fir and enable the trees to hold heavier ornaments, explained Jan Franke.

“Different people are looking for different features in a tree,” she said. “Sometimes they’re looking for fragrance, sometimes they’re looking for color, sometimes they’re looking for sturdy branches. So if you carry a variety of trees, then what your customer is looking for — that one feature that is really important to them — you have it.”

Reflecting back on their years of selling trees, Jan Franke said it’s the people they have gotten to know over the years that has made the business rewarding.

“The community is a big part of it,” she said.

A retired high school teacher, Franke said she enjoys seeing her former students and meeting their families when they come to the farm.

Oregon is the largest state producer of Christmas trees in the country with an estimated harvest of 6.4 million trees for 2013, according the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association. Although the Douglas fir represents the largest share of the market with 47 percent, the Noble is close behind with 45 percent.

Century Farm Christmas Trees, located at 5357 St. Paul Highway, will be open the next two weekends, Dec. 7-8 and 14-15, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Franke’s Christmas Trees, located at 16815 Butteville Road N.E., is open Friday to Sunday through Dec. 23 from 8 a.m. until dark.

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