Family Christmas is important to Missy and Pat Murphy.
That’s why the u-cut Christmas tree season at their rural Chehalis Mistletoe Tree Farm is somewhat short, ending this Sunday, Dec. 5.
By the time they open their gates to the public around Thanksgiving, they have already been working hard to make sure Christmas trees get to families all over the region and they are ready to be able to enjoy the season together as well.
“We’ve been cutting since around Nov. 1 already and we’re ready for a break,” Missy said.
The Murphys have been in the tree business for about 32 years, with Pat learning the trade on his uncle Pete Murphy’s tree farm in Onalaska. Pete and Cathy Murphy own Murphy Tree Farm and are some of the many wholesale Christmas tree growers in Lewis County, which is among the top five counties producing Christmas trees in Washington state. Pat Murphy said after experiencing the business on his uncle’s farm, he knew this is what he wanted to do.
“It’s a happy time of year, Christmas always is,” Pat said of what he loves about selling Christmas trees. “Nobody comes out here and is unhappy.”
Mistletoe Tree Farm started as a wholesale operation in 1999. About four years into their venture, they saved 20 cut trees and leaned them against their barn for sale just to see if the public would be interested. And they were interested.
“Every year it basically doubled,” Pat said.
U-cut was added to Mistletoe’s lineup about 15 years ago. In just a couple weeks, about 1,000 u-cut and precut Christmas trees will leave Mistletoe Tree Farm. U-cut customers are greeted by warm cups of cocoa and Santa on weekends, and the Murphys are ready to help with everything from wrapping up your tree to carrying it to your car.
“An adventure on the farm,” Pat said of what he wants families to experience while visiting. “I think that’s what keeps people coming back year after year is the multitude of things they can enjoy here. You can’t go to the box store and have a campfire or a cocoa.”
A unique family experience while finding the perfect tree is also what Karen and Eric Bernard, the “K” and “E” behind K and E Tree Farm in Winlock, want for their customers.
A trip to K and E Tree Farm is meant to have a leisurely pace, with some families bringing picnic lunches or hiking boots to trek down to Ferrier Creek.
“We have attractions here nobody else is offering,” Eric said. “We have squishy mud puddles. And sometimes we have hide and seek in the trees.”
“Parents bring their kids here to tire them out,” Karen added with a chuckle.
While their Winlock Farm may be relatively new, first offering trees in 2019, the Bernards have known and loved the Christmas tree business for many years. Karen’s parents owned Westover Farm in Maple Valley and the couple learned the Christmas tree business by helping out on that farm.
“Its one of the few businesses that people are happy to spend money,” Eric said of what he loves about it. “They come in and say ‘thank you’ and ‘merry Christmas’. It’s a positive, upbeat sort of business.”
When property became too expensive in Maple Valley for the Bernards to start their own tree farm, they decided to start looking for property elsewhere in 2014. It would take them until 2018 and resorting to searching Google maps to find the property that checked off all the boxes such as: access to good water, located at the end of a road and both the land and its access points do not flood. They cold-called owners of the property they were interested in and not only were they amenable to selling part of their land, but the property already had a rich Christmas tree heritage as the former location of the Stinson Tree Farm.
The Bernards purchased 37 acres of the Stinson property and began offering Christmas trees mostly by word of mouth. They are first and foremost concerned with being good stewards of the land, which means the farm is a work in progress and may look different from some larger operations. Overgrown Christmas trees from the former Stinson farm are limbed to make wreaths, topped for Christmas trees, chipped for mulch, and even left in place to create a habitat for the animals such as bears, weasels and raptor type birds that surround them.
“Nothing goes to waste here,” Karen said.
Last year, K and E Tree Farm sold about 200 trees. Currently, they offer primarily noble firs that are left natural and unsheared, but they plan to add cedar and Willamette Valley Ponderosa Pine to the offerings in years to come. Karen said she would eventually like to offer some more Christmas décor items and to be able to offer coffee, cider and candy canes for the kids just like her parents did at Westover Farm. But even as they have plans for the future, the couple says they always intend K and E Tree Farm to be a mom-and-pop business, with a homey feel.
Local Tree Farms
Local Christmas tree farms open now:
Christmas Trees and Memories
Tucker Road, Centralia
360-431-5847 or find them on Facebook.
Open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends.
Price for u-cut is $3-$4.50 per foot, depending on type of tree. Varieties include Nordmann fir, grand fir, Douglas fir, Norway spruce and blue spruce. Fresh cut noble firs $18-$40.
Christmas Valley Tree Farm
11540 183rd Ave. SW, Rochester (1 ¼ mile west of Rochester on U.S. Highway 12).
360-273-6196 or find them on Facebook.
Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Dec. 24.
U-cut trees in a large variety including Nordmann, Blue Corkbark fir, Noble fir, grand fir and blue spruce. Prices range from $54 to $74. Wreaths and holly are also for sale.
Jensen’s U Cut Trees
2841 184th Ave. SE, Tenino
360-264-5336, rb-ranch.com/Christmas-tree-s or find them on Facebook.
Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday-Monday. Closing date to be announced.
U-cut Noble Fir $60, Grand fir $50, Douglas Fir $40.
K and E Tree Farm
182 Wepsala Road, Winlock
firstname.lastname@example.org or find them on Facebook
Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday
You-choose, we-cut Noble or Grand firs for $45 any size, wreaths and door charms $27. Cash payment preferred.
Mendez Tree Farm
10510 179th Ave. SW, Rochester, 360-789-4686
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 4-5 and Dec. 11-12.
All sizes of Douglas fir $15, cash or check only. Holiday bazaar also offered all open days.
Mistletoe Tree Farm
268 Stearns Road, Chehalis
Find them on Facebook
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends through Dec. 5. Santa is available on weekends 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
U-cut price of $10 per foot, pre-cut trees prices by size and type. Wreaths and other holiday décor are also available for sale.
Permits to cut trees in many national forests, including the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, can be purchased at recreation.gov/tree-permits. Permits are $5 per tree with a maximum of five trees allowed. Douglas firs most commonly available since other varieties grow at higher elevations that can be difficult to reach during winter months.
101 Goff Road, Chehalis
360-880-7380 or find them on Facebook.
Open 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Live Christmas trees ranging from 4 to 12 feet priced at $15 per foot. Grand fir, Douglas fir, Noble fit, blue spruce, green spruce and pine.