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Christmas Tree Farm

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree …

We all know the song, but do we know that there are 25 – 30 million real Christmas trees sold in the United States every year. And currently there are an additional 350 million trees growing on Christmas tree farms in this country on approximately 350,000 acres of green land. We will get back to some more fun facts in a moment, but where did this industry get its start? An industry that supports 15,000 Christmas tree farms and employs over 100,000 full and part-time people. (Full disclosure: you can not plant a gift tree on a Christmas tree farm with The Gifted Tree, but we do plant in 30+ countries.)

The History of the Christmas Tree

The history of the Christmas Tree stretches back over 2,000 years, and according to historian Deemer Cass of the London-based Fantastic Gardeners, Christians weren’t the first to admire and decorate Christmas trees. Pagans used to worship evergreen trees as a symbol of fertility.  Plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

According to History.com, Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition, as we now know it, in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.

How did the tradition come to America?

Christmas Tree on a Boat

Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.

In 1846, History.com reports that the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society.

The Christmas tree had arrived.

By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S. It was noted that Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.

The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became an American tradition.

Christmas tree fun facts

Christmas Tree Farm in Winter with SnowChristmas trees have been sold commercially in the United States since about 1850.

It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of typical height (6 – 7 feet) or as little as 4 years, but the average growing time is 7 years.

Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states including Hawaii and Alaska. The top Christmas Tree producing states are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington.

The tallest living Christmas tree is believed to be the 122-foot, 91-year-old Douglas fir in the town of Woodinville, Washington.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition began in 1931 but had humble beginnings. According to The New York Times, the tradition started during the Great Depression when construction workers put up a mere 20-foot tree in the plaza and decorated it with paper garlands, strings of cranberries, and tin cans. Today, a Norway spruce no taller than 100 feet is chosen every year, is laden with over 25,000 Christmas lights and topped with a Swarovski crystal star that weighs more than 9,000 pounds.

Franklin Pierce, the 14th president, brought the Christmas tree tradition to the White House. While in 1923, President Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony now held every year on the White House lawn.

Since 1966, the National Christmas Tree Association has given a Christmas tree to the President and first family.

77 million Christmas trees are planted each year, and on average, over 2,000 Christmas trees are planted per acre.

Other types of trees such as cherry and hawthorns were used as Christmas trees in the past.

Thomas Edison’s assistants came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees instead of traditional candles. It stood in Edison’s power plant in Manhattan, set on a rotating box so that passersby could see all 80 blinking red, white, and blue lights. In 1882, no one had seen anything like it.Christmas Tree Lights

In 1963, the National Christmas Tree was not lit until December 22nd because of a national 30-day period of mourning following the assassination of President Kennedy. In 1979, the National Christmas Tree was not lighted except for the top ornament. This was done in honor of the American hostages in Iran.

Teddy Roosevelt banned the Christmas tree from the White House for environmental reasons. Realize that Christmas trees are a home to a lot of insects and microorganisms, so when you bring one home, make sure you shake it thoroughly before bringing it inside.

In the first week, a tree in your home will consume as much as a quart of water per day.

Christmas trees were once hung upside down like chandeliers, and that custom is still common in parts of Europe.

In 1984, the National Christmas Tree was lit on December 13th with temperatures in the 70s, making it one of the warmest tree lightings in history.

The best-selling trees are Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir and White Pine, although the Nordmann Fir is considered the leader among Christmas trees. The Nordmann Fir has been a popular Christmas tree choice in Europe for a number of years and is gaining momentum in the United States. It’s preferred among other evergreens due to its excellent needle retention, the softness of the needles and how it’s perfect for people with allergies. The tree’s lack of the usual Christmas tree aroma makes it ideal for those who can’t tolerate the fragrance, according to HolidayTreeFarm.com.

Real vs. artificial Christmas trees.

If you prefer an artificial tree, you’re not alone. This option is cheaper and lower maintenance. Artificial trees date back to the 1880s, when Germans looking to offset deforestation made the first ones from dyed goose feathers held together with wire. Since then, people around the world have made fake trees out of aluminum, cardboard, and glass, although most artificial Christmas trees sold today are made from PVC plastic with about 80% made in China.

Unfortunately, most fake trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead. Real Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource and are grown for the purpose of being a Christmas tree. “You’re not doing any harm by cutting down a Christmas tree,” Clint Springer, a botanist and professor of biology at Philadelphia’s Saint Joseph’s University, told The New York Times in a recent interview. “A lot of people think artificial is better because you’re preserving the life of a tree. But in this case, you’ve got a crop that’s being raised for that purpose.”

There are also more than 4,000 local Christmas Tree recycling programs throughout the United States. And the trees have been used to make sand and soil erosion barriers and placed in ponds to provide shelter for fish. Just don’t burn them in your fireplace as the soot can be bad for your chimney.

Christmas Tree in a Car

Whichever type of tree you choose, just be safe. Christmas trees have, on average, started 160 house fires per year. We want everyone to relax, enjoy and spend some good quality time with the family this holiday season. Happy Holidays from The Gifted Tree!

 

Connect Personally - Benefit Globally - Support A Cause

The Gifted Tree has always helped the earth by planting trees worldwide to counteract the devastating effects of forest fires and climate change, but we have added a new wrinkle. Your gift tree will still help you connect with someone special to you and give the world a gift too, but now you can also help support a cause.

Announcing Our Trees for a Cause Planting Program

The Gifted Tree announces our Trees for a Cause win-win-win partnership program. Win 1 = Connect on a personal level with someone important to you and show them you care. Win 2 = By planting a tree, you are helping the earth, counteracting the devastating effects of forest fires and climate change. Win 3 = Directly help the hard work of a worthwhile cause by planting your gift tree in a charity-specific “Giving Grove,” located in a U.S. National Forest. When you choose our Trees for a Cause program, The Gifted Tree will donate 10% of the purchase price to that organization to help fund their valuable programs.

Our Military Kids Logo - Empowering Military Kids

Our Military Kids Partnership

Our first partnership is with Our Military Kids and their “Giving Grove” is called the Empower Tree Grove and is located in a U.S. National Forest. Since 2004, Our Military Kids empowers military kids by funding sports, arts, and other enrichment activities when their parents are deployed overseas with the National Guard or Reserves or recovering from severe injuries sustained in a post-9/11 overseas mission.

National Guard and Reserve families sometimes have trouble accessing support services from military installations. During deployments, these families may lose income when their military member leaves a civilian job to accept a military position overseas. The loss of income and lack of resources can create gaps that are hard on families. Our Military Kids fills these gaps with a simple grant program that pays for their children’s activities.

Wheel-chair bound amputee military father helping his daughter on the playgroundWhen military members are injured in service to our country, their families face many changes. They may have to move closer to medical care or change their comfortable routines. Children must often take a back seat while parents deal with more pressing issues related to medical care, financial strains, and other adult responsibilities. Our Military Kids grants ease the financial strain on parents while giving their children the chance to participate in positive activities that will help them laugh, grow, and feel connected to the community.

The History of Our Military Kids

In early 2004, Our Military Kids started small, with a pilot program focused on a National Guard unit from Winchester, Va. The pilot program was extremely successful, and they expanded to help all deployed Reserve and National Guard families living throughout Virginia. Air Force father holding his daughter

Calls from deploying soldiers were sometimes heartbreaking. Feeling the need to help more children cope with the challenges brought on by lengthy separations, Our Military Kids began covering families living in Maryland, the District of Columbia and, eventually, the entire United States.

In 2008, Our Military Kids expanded its program once again, this time to include children of service members and veterans from all branches of service who were severely injured in post-9/11 combat operations, and whose families were struggling to deal with financial and emotional hardships.

Today, Our Military Kids is a national organization. Funded entirely by private donors, foundations and corporate sponsors. Since its inception, the group has provided more than 67,000 grants to military families across the country, allowing military kids the opportunity to participate in sports, arts and other activities while their parents are deployed or recovering from severe injuries sustained in combat. Participation in these activities helps military children cope with stress and build self-confidence while their parents are recovering or serving overseas.

4-Star Rating

While The Gifted Tree is so impressed with the mission of Our Military Kids, we are also attracted to the group’s financial acumen and transparency.  Our Military Kids has earned the highest possible 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator, the leading charity watchdog organization. Because of the group’s careful money management, a high percentage of donation dollars is going directly to fund kids’ grants, something that is important to The Gifted Tree and guided its decision to include the organization in our Trees for a Cause program.Two Our Military Kids children proudly holding their grant award certificates

How It Works

If you want to plant a tree in memory of, in celebration of or in honor of someone close to you and make a difference in a child’s life, consider our Trees for a Cause option. For Our Military Kids, help their worthwhile cause by planting in their Empower Tree Grove located in a U.S. National Forest. The exact location will be noted on the tree planting certificate. Choose from any of our certificate presentation options and select “Trees for a Cause – Our Military Kids” in the Tree Planting location in the drop down on the order page. Ten percent (10%) of the purchase price of your gift tree will be donated to the organization to directly help fund its programs, which ease stress for military kids by paying for participation in sports, fine arts, & tutoring programs while their parents are serving their country overseas or recovering from battle wounds.

Choose Trees for a Cause and help support Our Military Kids. Learn more or plant your tree by clicking here.

 

Beautiful assortment of painted rocks with inspirational messages painted on them

Here at The Gifted Tree, we receive comments from many of you who have received gift trees, and one common thread throughout is that the planting of a gift tree shows that the gift giver really cares. Whether it is to honor a lost loved one or to celebrate one of life’s milestone events, the recipient mentions how it is one of the most thoughtful gifts they have ever received.

The other day, I was on my typical weekend hike in the park when I sat down on a bench to get some wood chips out of my shoe. When I bent down to take off my shoe, I happened to notice a beautifully painted rock sitting in the grass next to one of the legs of the bench. Not only did the sun reflecting off the purple color catch my attention, but the beautifully painted design, along with the words “Life is beautiful, enjoy every moment,” could not be ignored.

I picked the rock up for a closer inspection, and on the other side were painted words directing me to the website GoRock.com.  Painted rock with GoRock website URL and identifier number painted on the bottomPutting the rock in my water bottle holder pouch, I logged onto the website once I was back in my office. I discovered that this wasn’t some random rock that had fallen out of a kid’s backpack, but it had purposely been placed for someone to find, and that someone was me. Online, I could type in the rock identifier number on the label and discover where the rock was painted and the path it had taken before I discovered it.

It brought a smile to my face, and also the realization that the person who painted this rock had some of the same motives as our gift tree customers – wanting to show he or she cares. Just as The Gifted Tree plants gift trees in 20+ locations around the world, GoRock is a global community of rock painters spreading positive vibes all over the world, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.

And just as you can virtually visit the areas around the world where your gift tree has been planted, on GoRock.com, you can see how many people have found that rock, and on a virtual world map, the journey that rock has taken around the globe.

Beautifully painted rock with inspirational message laying next to tree trunkAnd just as planting a gift tree can help you express your feelings, show you care, and connect on a personal level with someone important to you, finding a simple painted rock can help spread love, joy, and inspiration. Both gift trees and painted rocks stand out and have a lasting impact. Now I just must decide where I will re-hide the rock so that I can bring a smile to someone else’s face and have them create their own story of discovery!

 

Yours treely,

Doug

Forest and Mountain Stream

One question we receive frequently at The Gifted Tree concerns the role trees play in the keeping our water supply safe and clean. When one thinks of forests and majestic trees, a lot of us understand the vital role trees play in helping clean the air we breathe by acting as filters and removing harmful particles and pollutants.  Those same people are less familiar with the role trees play in purifying our water sources, including those that provide drinking water for millions of Americans every day.

Water is probably the most vital resource for our survival. Whether it be for drinking water or washing our clothes, the average American uses an estimated 80-100 gallons of water per day. For many of us, having access to clean drinking water and running water in our homes is a necessity that we often take for granted.

People are not the only ones who count on water for survival. Trees and animals also need water for their existence. Water availability has a direct impact on the health of forests and their inhabitants. Trees are made up of more than 50 percent water and need a steady source of it in order to grow and stay healthy. A single mature oak can consume over 40,000 gallons of water in a year!

Tree in Front of Magnificent WaterfallOkay, trees need water to survive, but how do they help in improving our water quality? Trees improve water quality by slowing rain as it falls to the Earth, and helping it soak into the soil. Trees then serve as natural sponges, collecting and filtering rainfall and releasing it slowly into streams and rivers. Tress are the most effective land cover for maintenance of water quality. They prevent soil from eroding into our waterways which contribute to poor water quality, reduce storm water runoff, and lessen flood damage. Furthermore, the movement of water from the ground, through trees and leaves and back to the environment, allows for clouds to form and significant precipitation to fall.

Having a buffer of forestland by streams and riverbanks does more than just filtering the water. Planting and maintaining woody vegetation along streams provide a wealth of benefits, including filtering sediment, removing nitrogen and phosphorous leaching from adjacent agricultural land uses, and providing stability to the bank through a wood root system. Forest cover has been directly linked to reducing drinking water treatment costs and helping to recharge the water table by allowing water to enter the ground, so the more forest in a source water watershed, the lower the cost to treat that water.

Now you know another of the multitude of benefits trees provide. Luckily, one easy way to protect and clean our water supply is to plant trees, and The Gifted Tree can help. We plant gift trees to show you care – memorial trees in remembrance of a lost loved one, human or pet, or gift trees to celebrate a milestone event.  Not only will you be remembered due to the unique and innovative presentation tree certificate the recipient will receive, but you are giving the world a gift too – clean water.

Trees and Mountain Stream

One question we get at The Gifted Tree is “Why plant again after a forest fire, aren’t you just setting the scenario for another forest fire?” As with most issues in life, there are two sides to the story. Since here at The Gifted Tree we plant gift trees, I will lean toward the “plant again” side.

Wildfire is a necessary and important part of a natural landscape, but it is undeniable that some wildfires have harsh and negative impacts on communities, water resources, outdoor recreation resources, and fish and wildlife habitat. In these cases, post-fire restoration can be crucial to prevent further damage and to spur recovery. Reforestation is important in creating wildlife habitat, decreasing soil erosion, encouraging snow retention, sequestering carbon, providing clean air and water, and reestablishing native tree species and future seed sources.

Damage from some wildfires doesn’t always stop once the flames are suppressed and the smoke clears, and is sometimes more devastating than the fire itself. Loss of vegetation as a result of an intensely burning large fire can expose soil to erosion. We have all read about the recent fires in California followed by torrential rains creating massive and deadly mud slides.

The sight of blackened earth after a fire is hard to take, but in this plight, patience is a virtue. While every fire situation is different, post-fire restoration is a process that can take years. Sometimes the trees can grow back on their own – the blackened trees lining the ground hide what is going on their underside ─ sometimes there is new growth which can spawn new trees as well as provide a habitat for wildlife such as birds. Also. while the temperatures at surface level can be very high, destroying all vegetation, just below the surface, the temperatures can be quite normal. Thus, in certain situations, root systems remain intact and will regenerate on their own.

In other situations, fires burn with such intensity that no seed source remains, and humans need to be the catalyst. In these situations, the reforestation action starts with a seed, literally. The forest service is in the business of constantly collecting seeds from different elevations and different species of trees from forests all over the country. These seeds are carefully labeled so that when they are needed, they are replanted in the exact area where, or very near to where, they were harvested. In fact, in addition be being geographically replanted in the same area, seeds are planted at the same elevation within 700 feet from where they were collected. That means a Ponderosa Pine seed collected in Colorado would not be planted in Idaho. Or one collected in Northern Colorado would not be replanted in Southern Colorado. If collected and handled properly, these seeds can be viable for 30 to 40 years.

The Gifted Tree works with partners who focus on planting where the greatest reforestation needs exist, in areas impacted by large-scale fires or insects and disease where there is virtually no probability the area will reforest on its own. In those cases, seeds are ordered from the seed bank nursery and the nursery workers find the ones collected from the area when the devastation occurred.

Once the seeds are carefully inspected and the duds discarded, they are planted in holes made in large Styrofoam blocks. Those blocks lay end-to-end in the glass greenhouse, where workers nurse them along until the next viable planting season. That means the seedlings will not be ready to plant until at least one year after a fire. At the same time, Forest Service experts prepare the burned area and make sure it is safe for the workers and the soil is ready for planting.

At precisely the right moment, usually late spring, or early summer, the baby trees are shipped back to the forest for planting. They have a very high survival rate because they are genetically ready for the climate, altitude and soil conditions of the area.

Reforestation is a scientifically honed process, a picture that takes a while to complete. The Gifted Tree works with agencies that not only plant your gift tree where it has the best chance for growth but revisit the planting areas for several years after to ensure long-term viability. So whether the gift tree is planted in memory of a lost loved one, or to celebrate a happy life event, know that a lot of scientific thought went into the planting ensuring that your gift tree will have a lasting impact and be a gift to the earth as well.  Discover more on the three steps to planting a gift tree at https://www.thegiftedtree.com/build-your-gift-in-three-easy-steps/.

Yours treely,

Doug