Local Christmas Tree Farmers Seeing Customers Deck the Halls Early

While weather issues have impacted some of their crops, two tree farmers in Duluth said they're excited to see the big crowds they saw last year.

DULUTH, Minn. – The first measurable snow of the season has got people in the mood to spruce up their homes for the holidays, shopping for locally grown Christmas trees early this year. While the weather has affected some of their growth, they’re still ready for crowds as big as they saw last year.

“Happens every year,” said Bob Abrahamson of Abrahamson’s Farm. “Little bit of snow on the ground and it just feels like the season’s starting and just kind of cleans everything up.”

It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but Northlanders are already hitting up local Christmas tree farms.

“We have our early bird Christmas lovers who already came to get their freshly cut trees,” said Allison Hoffbauer, owner of Hoffbauer Tree Farm. “A lot of people too early in the year love to come get greens — so wreaths, garlands, porch pots.”

Once again this year, Hoffbauer Tree Farm filled up the Duluth Farmers Market with freshly cut green weekly.

“It’s a special place,” Hoffbauer said. “The joy, the smells, the sounds of Christmas it really feels alive in here.”

They are also set up at the Super One in West Duluth. Since opening up for the season Saturday, they’ve seen their share of returning and new customers.

“We wanted things that are handmade, from greens that are local and we think they look better, they smell better, and they make us happy,” said Cindi Baker, shopping for a wreath with her husband, Mark.

While it may not be noticeable with the forest they have set up inside the market, the Hoffbauers — like other tree growers across the state — felt the effects of this year’s drought. “We are experiencing that,” Allison said.

“We really feel lit with the seedlings that were planted this year. The drought really impacted those new seedlings that went in the ground,” she said. “And then it was just some slow growth in some of the more mature trees as well. Not seeing that water this summer.”

Weather issues like the fast-changing climate have also impacted Abrahamson’s Farm up on Howard Gnesen Road.

“We had that early, really early heatwave this year, like in April,” said owner Bob Abrahamson. “So the trees started budding out and they, then we got a frost. So lost a lot of growth this year.”

“I mean it was dry and warm but I think since the frost burnt off all my new growth they didn’t really grow much this year,” he said.

Still, owner Bob Abrahamson says supply looks good, even to people from the cities already up shopping around.

But dryness nationwide, he said, is leading to some halls he is not prepared to deck.

“Yeah I have heard too even out West, people looking for trees,” said Abrahamson. “So I’ve had people calling me for, buying hundreds or whatever. And I just don’t have that many.”

“Yeah, there’s a drought out there,” he said.

But here, Northlanders are calling and stopping by before he’s even announced he’s opening. “Lot of people love to go out and just even walk the tree farm. Even if they don’t find one out there, I’ll have a lot of really nice pre-cut ones.”

All that demand is pushing him to open as soon as next week, way earlier than his usual day after Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, Hoffbauer Farms will keep their sustainably and locally grown trees at the Farmers Market until Christmas. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, people can come and cut their own tree at their main farm on Lindahl road.

“Less distance the greens move, the better it is for the environment and it’s just that local piece,” said Allison. “All of this was grown just minutes away from their own home.”

And supporting local holly makes the Duluth community even more jolly.

“They seem so fresh and like you said the smells are so good it reminds you of all the Christmases past,” Mark Baker said.

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