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Mid-valley families visit local farms to spruce up with Christmas trees fir the holidays

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‘Twas the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when all through Donovan’s Place
Not a Douglas Fir or Blue Spruce from a hand saw was safe...

11-year-old Corvallis twins Annie and Will Anderson debated over who should make the final hack at the trunk of a tree their family picked out on the Donovan Place lawn.

Cutting down her own tree felt “weird, actually,” said Annie, who won the honor. “But I felt like, ‘Well, I did something for myself.’”

The Corvallis Christmas tree farm, in operation since Dale Donovan bought the property in the 1970s, sells around 500 trees to families like the Andersons each year.

“We believe in cutting our own tree down,” said the twins’ mother Emily Anderson. “It’s kind of the Oregon way, you know?”

“With the pandemic, everybody wants something positive in their lives,” Donovan said. “We seem to be setting records. If we sell more trees this year, I will not be surprised.”

The 77-year-old has made some adjustments due to the scare the coronavirus presents, including processing transactions behind a window, having staff bleach each hand saw after use and handing out Swiss Miss packets to kids instead of fresh hot cocoa.

“I want to have another Christmas besides the one coming up,” Donovan jested.

Plus, nothing beats the smell of a fresh Douglas Fir, said Corvallis mom Katie Middendorf. Along with husband Fernando Frias, she said she wants to extend her childhood tradition of cutting down Christmas trees with her father in Georgia to their babies, 2-year-old Sebastian and 1-year-old Clara.

“It was fun to go out there and go hunting for the perfect tree,” Frias said.

The trees were hauled from Vollstedt Farms with care,
Soon to be decorated in mid-valley living rooms with flair...

“I love Christmas season,” said Linda Sims, owner of Vollstedt Farms. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Unlike most holiday seasons Sims has spent on the Albany farm since the 1970s, “This year we had to change so many things.”

Although there were no wagon rides offered, pets allowed or picnic tables for visitors to enjoy their hot cocoa and wassail, Sims said she’s been working hard to make the best out of 2020’s precautions.

“It’s been a challenge, but we started brainstorming this three months ago so we could have it set up to keep people apart,” she said.

One of her new ideas caters to the kiddos: if those 10 years of age or younger visit the greenhouse gift shop and pick out a tree seedling for 25 cents, staff will tag it with the child’s name and plant it. In seven or eight years, the fully-grown tree will be 25% off to the identical young adult coming to claim it.

“By then, they’ll be old enough to appreciate it,” Sims said. “I’m just trying to do things to make it fun for people.”

Although Sims said business seems a bit slower this year, since their pre-Thanksgiving opening, repeat customers have carried on their traditions nonetheless.

“It’s the whole ambiance” that attracts Corvallis dad Pete Meyers and his family each year. This year, he let daughters Kathleen and Rebecca cut down the trees.

“To do it even once is a good experience,” Meyers said, after saying 11-year-old Kathleen chopped down her Noble Fir for the first time. “It is part of the fun.”

With trees tied to minivans, ere the Oregonians drove out of sight—
Happy holidays to all, and to all a fun time!

Nia Tariq can be reached at 541-812-6091. Follow her on Twitter @NiaTariq.

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