Nearly all of the trees at Staples Christmas Tree Farm have been cut down and sold this season. Jane Vaughan / Lakes Region Weekly

In line with a national trend, Christmas tree farms in the Lakes Region are seeing a lot of younger people frequenting their farms in search of real Christmas trees.

According to the USDA Census of Agriculture, the number of real Christmas trees being harvested has decreased in recent years, from 21 million trees in 2002 to 15 million in 2017. The reason, according to national survey data, is that fewer households are putting up real trees. Forty-seven percent of households put up a real tree in 1989, but only 21% did so last year.

That decline is not evenly spread across generations. In 2014, 44% of tree purchasers age 30 through 49 put up a real tree, while only 16% of those 65 and older did. Eighty-one percent of those age 65 and over chose an artificial tree instead.

Fred Staples, owner of Staples Christmas Tree Farm in Windham, said that this year has been “business as usual,” but with many new customers. Jane Vaughan / Lakes Region Weekly

Tree farms in the Lakes Region have not seen a decline in demand this year and instead report large numbers of younger people buying real trees.

The younger generation is actually the ones that are coming out and wanting the real trees,” said Doug Fortier, owner of Merry Christmas Trees in Windham. 

Jim Watson, owner of Watson Farm Christmas Trees in Standish, said his customers are often “younger people, 35 and under. Married, with one or two small kids. It’s more of those younger families. It seems like the older folks are kind of passing (the tradition of buying a real tree) on down now.”

Although the supply of trees has decreased due to environmental factors, these farms report that the season has been “business as usual,” according to Fred Staples, owner of Staples Christmas Tree Farm in Windham.

He also reported seeing a lot of new customers this year, and Watson agreed.

Business has been so strong, in fact, that Watson Farm will be shutting down early, as will Merry Christmas Trees, because they’ve run out of trees.

“We’re usually open three weeks,” Watson said. “My three-week season was ended in four days.” 

They’re cutting trees faster than I can grow them. It takes five years to grow them and 15 seconds to cut them down,” he said. 

Sharon Lloy, owner of Balsam Ridge Christmas Tree Farm in Raymond, said that this year seemed busier than years past. Balsam Ridge has already run out of cut-your-own trees.

“The real Christmas tree is alive and well in Maine,” Lloy said. 

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