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Nation’s best Christmas trees found at WNC Farmers Market

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By Catherine Hunter –

The National Christmas Tree Association has voted the North Carolina Fraser Fir the nation’s best Christmas tree for ten different years and the WNC Farmers Market is the second largest source for the trees in the state.

Voted the best tree for the years 1971, 1973, 1982, 1984, 1992, 1995, 1997, 2005, 2007 and 2008, the North Carolina Fraser Fir has been chosen for the White House a total of 11 times, which is more than any other type of tree.

“This year is better than last year,” said Danny Welch of Banner Tree Farm in Avery County about sales numbers. “People are waiting until later this year though. I think it’s because of the warm weather.”

According to Welch the Asheville market located on Brevard Road sells thousands of trees each year. “We’ve sold more and bigger trees this year,” he said.

Keith and Lydia Hoilman of Hoilman Tree Farm in Banner Elk have been selling trees at the Farmers’ Market for 25 years. Lydia said their sales at the Farmers Market are always strong.

“They [tree shoppers] want fresh trees,” said Lydia. “Some want a fat tree and some want a skinny one.”

“The men want tall trees,” Keith said. “Women want shorter ones.”

There are approximately 1,600 Christmas tree farms in North Carolina covering about 25,000 acres, growing an estimated 50 million trees and including approximately 400 choose and cut tree farms. The North Carolina Fraser Fir is the most popular Christmas tree in North America, and is shipped to every state in the US as well as the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, Japan and other locations around the globe.

The trees grow in elevations above 4,500 feet in Southwestern Virginia, Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. North Carolina Fraser Fir growers are primarily located in the counties of Alleghany, Ashe, Avery Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, Mitchell, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey.

Mary and Charles Wilson of Stonewall Christmas Trees in Mitchell County are selling at the Farmers’ Market this year for the first time. Mary said they have sold at the Raleigh market in past years, but are really enjoying the Asheville experience.

“We’re really enjoying meeting the people here,” Mary said.

Farmers’ Market growers sell tress from a few feet to 15 feet or more. Keith Hoilman said their most popular height is seven to eight feet tall. The growers are also selling holiday wreaths of all sizes.

In addition to the trees and wreaths being sold in the local shed, the farmers market includes produce from all over the region including not only farmers from Western North Carolina, Eastern Tennessee and Upstate South Carolina. It is open 24 hours a day and includes a retail shed with smaller quantities of local items open until 5 pm.

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