The holiday season is a time for many people to spend time with family and engage in time-honored traditions.
For many people celebrating Christmas, one of the hallmarks of the holiday is a tree, often a real one.
Luckily, Eastside residents don’t have to drive far to get to McMurtry’s Red-Wood Christmas Tree Farm outside Redmond.
The farm is run by Jana and Pablo Sifuentes and has been selling trees for around 30 years.
The couple took it over from Jana’s father in 2000.
“We weren’t living on the tree farm, but we would come and help,” she said. “We just decided that this was a better environment to raise our kids.”
The couple took over running the farm 17 years ago, but it had been a staple of the Sammamish Valley since the family bought it in 1975.
Jana said her father used to grow vegetables and trees on the property, as well as adjacent ones he used to own.
But vegetable farming isn’t the most profitable industry for small farmers, so they eventually switched to trees.
On an overcast December day, families walked through the 12-acre plot where the trees are grown, saws in hand.
The farm is U-cut for around three weeks after Thanksgiving, and ended last Saturday.
Jana said their calculus for closing down the U-cut portion of the farm is based on projections of how many trees they will need in following years. When they hit their limit, they switch to selling trees brought up from a small supplier in Chehalis.
When those trees are sold out, they shut down for the year.
“We get to that number and we have to close,” she said. “It’s just a matter of when we sell out of trees.”
The good news is that for families still in need of a tree, there were rows of pre-cut firs still on the farm last week, but Pablo said it had been a good year and they were selling out quickly.
The farm imports seedling trees and lets them grow in a planter for a year, before moving them to the field to grow for another four to five years before harvesting them.
Any tree at McMurtry’s this year was $49.
After a tree is cut down, it is brought back to a main station next to the barn where employees make a cleaner cut, shake it to remove dead needles and bind it with twine to be sent home.
Jana said they hire a lot of local teens, especially football players, who can haul the trees around for customers.
After nearly 20 years running the farm, Jana said she still loves talking with the customers who come in for the holiday season.
It also gave the couple a great place to raise their family of six children, she said.
The farm is located at 13925 Redmond-Woodinville Road N.E. and will remain open until their stock sells out this winter.