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Haven’t found your Christmas tree yet? Happy hunting, Boise.

They're gone. They're all gone.
North End Organic Nursery
They're gone. They're all gone.

Maybe the supply chain crisis has nudged artificial tree customers toward getting a live Christmas tree this year. Maybe more families are emerging from a horrible, pandemic-driven year to a more traditional holiday. Or maybe it’s just that amazing evergreen smell.

No matter the motivation, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a really great tree from a Treasure Valley seller. In fact, at North End Organic Nursery, they’ve completely sold out of their 500+ inventory – big, small and everything in between – of Christmas trees.

“All of our really big trees are sold. All of our smaller trees are sold,” said co-owner Lindsay Schramm. “That’s it.”

Schramm visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about this year’s buying frenzy, the long-term impact of climate change on the industry, and the many new customers she’s meeting this season.

“Today, I helped at least two people who have never had a Christmas tree before, and they came from out of state, and they're here in the northwest, and they really want that feeling of the northwest in their living room and that real natural smell.”
Lindsay Schramm

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning, I'm George Prentice. If you want to talk about Christmas trees this year, it would help if you had paid attention to this year's weather patterns. And then there's the pandemic's impact on the economy, let alone the supply chain issues. So, let's talk trees with a person who knows about Christmas trees as much as just about anybody else. And that is Lindsay Schramm, co-owner of North End Organic Nursery in Boise, who joins us this morning from out in the tree lot. Lindsay, good morning.

LINDSAY SCHRAMM: Good morning. How are you?

PRENTICE: I'm well, thanks so much. We've talked about this in Christmases past, but can I assume that securing trees for this year was as challenging as ever?

SCHRAMM: Yes, it was. I, fortunately, have found a tree supplier, that now that I have my foot in the door, he's able to fill at least a certain amount. But there's no chance anymore of me just looking at an order sheet and saying, “This is how much I want of each and this is the price I want to pay.” I put in my request, and he lets me know sometime mid-October, what if any of the things that I actually wanted, I'm going to get.

PRENTICE: How big a deal, do you think, this year's drought and threats of wildfire in the northwest was on the overall supply of trees?

SCHRAMM: It's hard for me to say in that respect, I was actually quite worried, if not for the actual supply of trees, but I thought that the quality of trees might deteriorate because of the excess heat and lack of rain. Most tree farms, especially in Washington and Oregon are not irrigated, so if they dry really quick and don't get any naturally occurring precipitation. Then, I was concerned that there would be some quality issues with the trees looking a little bit dry. But I'm happy to report that that hasn't been the case. And at least from the farm where my trees are coming from in Washington… they may still look as beautiful and fresh as they have in years past. But I definitely was concerned, and it might have affected other farms that were in different climate pockets throughout the northwest.

PRENTICE: What are you seeing this year as far as customers? New customers? People who want that real tree experience again?

SCHRAMM: Mm hmm. Definitely. I think we have a set amount of people that have just come to us almost every year for the last 10 years; but there’s also definitely a lot of people that this is their first Christmas tree…their first real Christmas tree. Today, I helped at least two people who have never had a Christmas tree before, and they came from out of state, and they're here in the northwest, and they really want that feeling of the northwest in their living room and that real natural smell. So yes, definitely a lot of people who are first time tree owners and people who are coming back year after year.

PRENTICE: Ok, two weeks until Christmas; what have you got left? Big trees, small trees? What's left?

SCHRAMM: Honestly, nothing. We brought in 541 trees. And all of our really big trees are sold. All of our smaller trees are sold. And that is it

PRENTICE: And real quick, see if I remember, right? If you get a tree and keep the tree outside for a bit, you still want to get it into some water…with, with some bleach.

SCHRAMM: Yeah. So if you're going to get your tree…and grab it now, so that you don't have to worry about it not being available, something that I would definitely recommend doing is getting a fresh cut while you're here, and then taking it home and sticking it in water right away, because that'll actually help it to hydrate, especially if you can do it in someplace that's a little bit protected like your garage and it'll hydrate better and sort-of front load the moisture inside the tree before you bring it into the hot indoor dry air. And that'll keep it from evaporating too quickly. We do recommend you using a tree preserver right up front. The product that we like is from Oregon Forestry Labs, and it actually has some beads… some gel beads in there, so that the tree never has the chance to completely dry out. It gives you a little bit of a buffer zone so that in between watering, it doesn't completely dry out. But that's probably the most critical thing is that in those first 48 hours, when you get your tree home and into the stand indoors, it will drink like there’s no tomorrow. And if it dries out for even just a minute or two, it could seal over, and that bottom of the tree won't suck up water anymore. And that's the number one reason why trees dry out prematurely..

PRENTICE: Can you remind us of how green this industry is as far as its footprint, what it does for our overall environment… and the fact that we recycle these trees?

SCHRAMM: Absolutely. I mean, the footprint of the tree industry is a very green one. And the reason for that is because it is doing multiple things. First and foremost, you're preserving open land and you're putting on that open land, plants that are absorbing. copious amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere and storing them in place, so in the process of the tree growing and it's absorbing all that carbon, it takes about seven to eight years. And then once that tree is harvested, another tree is planted in order to have another tree ready in seven to eight years. And almost all of those trees are going to be shipped within a day's trucking drive from the farm where they were grown. So you've got a regional product that's being grown on farmland that's full, that's holding those open spaces, that's creating habitat for wildlife, that's creating air and oxygen and sequestering soils from eroding away. And at the end of the day, you aren't importing something from overseas that may or may not be stuck on a boat somewhere made with toxic materials that then out gas inside the home. And then at some point, once the tree has no longer met its use in your home, it's completely unrecyclable. At least 90 percent of them are. There's very few trees that I've seen that are artificial that can be recycled, whereas a real tree when it's done will be picked up curbside here in Boise and they take it, they mulch it and use it for further recycling purposes.

PRENTICE: Lindsay Shramm at North End Organic Nursery. It wouldn't be Christmas without you. Have a great Christmas.

SCHRAMM: Thanks so much for talking with us again, George. You have a merry Christmas as well. Bye bye.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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