Rønningen Ramblings: The Truth Behind Norwegian Christmas Trees

Heidi Grosch Morten hauling trees with their modern day horse... An atv...

Photo: Heidi Grosch
Morten hauling trees with their modern day horse… An atv…

The Truth Behind Norwegian Christmas Trees

Christmas is over and decorations have been put away for another year, but for us, the 2014 season is just about to begin. You see, my husband and I are Christmas tree farmers, and as soon as one season is over, it’s back to work creating the best trees possible.

So what does it take to create the perfect Christmas tree for the pickiest Christmas tree buyers in the world? After the New Year we order trees to plant and prepare machines etc… this spring we will plant about 900 new trees. As spring approaches and the snow melts, we visit each of our 10,000 trees to assess their form and clip unruly branches, attempting to maintain or create a perfect triangle.

We have about a week in May, after the new growth starts, to again visit each tree, pinching buds to control rate of growth, a technique used to balance a tree that is branch heavy on one side. In spring and summer we fertilize each tree by hand, using a tablespoon of fertilizer for each of the smaller ones. Our crop of weeds and grass is luscious, but undesired, so my husband has built a mower with two lawn-mower motors and an old two-wheel drive hand tractor. Our property is extremely steep, so it’s quite a work out!

Although we planted the first trees in 2006, it takes 6-8 years to reach “ornament bearing” potential. This year was therefore a monumental step for us as for the first time we officially opened our farm the two weekends before Christmas as a “cut-your-own” Christmas tree destination. As we also wanted this to be an experience, an “opplevelse”, we served glogg (a non-alcoholic warm drink), had a bonfire going, and provided all sorts of sparkles, sprinkles, and frostings for the children (of all ages) to decorate pepperkake (Norwegian ginger cookies) the American way (lots of toppings with a little bit of cookie to put it on). It brought me great joy to hear children, heads bend in concentration over their creations, saying “Mama, I don’t want to go! I want to stay here!” For trees that aren’t good enough for lights and tinsel, we make Christmas wreaths both for sale and in workshops where people make their own. This fall we will have our first “mark your own tree” weekend as it is easier to pick out your perfect tree if it isn’t buried in snow and you don’t have to negotiate an icy slope.

The media was kind, and as a result we were glad to welcome both people we knew and people we didn’t. If you want to know more about Gran og greier check out our new website (www.granoggreier.no). Even though it is in Norwegian, there are some nice pictures of the planting process.

Everyone finds their perfect tree in one way or another, whether from a Christmas tree lot in the city square or one they can store from year to year. So far our customers have been very happy with their choice to cut their own, perhaps because their tree spoke to them from amongst the thousands of others in the field, or perhaps because each tree comes infused with love and care.

The NRK TV spot compares real trees to artificial ones: http://tv.nrk.no/serie/distriktsnyheter-midtnytt#t=9m15s

TrønderAvisa (the newspaper of North Trondelag) http://www.ta.no/nyheter/article8845597.ece#.UrW2oh8xS6s.facebook

Heidi was a long-time Minnesotan until she married her favorite Norwegian, Morten, and moved to his home country of Norway. As a recent immigrant she is experiencing Norway with a unique perspective, filling us in on the good, the bad and the unexpected! To see more, subscribe to the Weekly.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 17, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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