Short supply, abundant cheer

Story and photos by Mike Tripp, contributor

A sign points out directions for those arriving at Ostlund Christmas Tree Farm.

Dennis Beck of Harrisonburg carries the handsaw while he and his wife, Daniela Beck, search a hillside at Ostlund Christmas Tree Farm in Singers Glen for that perfect holiday tree.

“We’re looking for something that will hold its needles the whole season,” Dennis explained. 

“It’s not too big,” Daniela added. “And will smell really strong for a long time.” 

“Oh! And it has boughs strong enough to hold our some of our hefty ornaments,” said Dennis. 

For more 50 years, live Christmas trees have been a staple in their home, and this year’s short supply won’t stop them. 

Several rows away, 6-year-old Autumn Swartz of Hinton pulls a tree sled uphill behind parents Ryan and Ashley Swartz.

Braelynn Swartz, 11, joins sister Annalisa Swartz, 7.

The pair weaves in and out of the tree, their destination already plotted. 

“We came the weekend before Thanksgiving and searched the whole field for the tree the kids wanted,” said Ashley. “[The] Ostlunds sent out a message that said they had really limited inventory this year and to mark your tree early.”

They did that, but waited a while to cut it. 

“Because it’s real, it doesn’t last and look pretty if you get it that far in advance,” Ashley continued. 

There are several reasons that trees are scarce this year, including a downward trend in plantings a decade ago and a subsequent drought. It takes eight to 10 years for a Christmas tree to mature. 

More recently, supply chain disruptions have not spared the tree industry, and record sales last year – when so many people stayed put for the holidays – led to early harvest of trees that otherwise would have kept growing until now. 

In summary: a perfect storm for a 2021 Christmas tree shortage.

The Swartz family made the most of their outing, posing for family photos in front of the tree, and then taking turns drawing the handsaw back and forth through the trunk. 

Ryan Swartz of Hinton stands with daughters, Braelynn, 11; Autumn, 6; and Annalisa, 7, as mother Ashley Swartz takes their photo with the Christmas tree they picked at Ostlund Christmas Tree Farm.

Braelynn and Annalisa worked together to load it onto their sled and pull it back downhill.

The Harris family also considers it something of an event for their small family. 

Tom Harris of Broadway used the shaker to shake away any stray needs.  

“And bugs,” added Tom. 

Then he ran it through the netting as 5-year-old Willow watched.

Willow Harris, 5, of Broadway watches as her father, Tom Harris, pushes their freshly cut Christmas tree through the netting to bind it for the trip home. Their family visited Ostlund Christmas Tree Farm in Singers Glen on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021.

Wife Brittany Harris and their friend, Angela Golladay, helped pull the tree through, freshly bound for the trip home. 

“We actually have our own Christmas tree farm,” said Tom. “Willow’s Tree Farm. [But] we don’t have trees big enough yet.” 

“So, we’ve been going to a different tree farm in the area each year to get a Christmas tree.”

Steve Nyce of Broadway carries the tree they selected and cut as wife Deb Nyce carries the saw at Ostlund Christmas Tree Farm in Singers Glen on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021.

Carol and Jon Yoder of Harrisonburg bring their freshly cut tree down the hill by sled.

Journalism is changing, and that’s why The Citizen is here. We’re independent. We’re local. We pay our contributors, and the money you give goes directly to the reporting. No overhead. No printing costs. Just facts, stories and context. We’re also a proud member of the Virginia Press Association. Thanks for your support.

Scroll to the top of the page

Hosting & Maintenance by eSaner

Thanks for reading The Citizen!

We’re glad you’re enjoying The Citizen, winner of the 2022 VPA News Sweepstakes award as the best online news site in Virginia! We work hard to publish three news stories every week, and depend heavily on reader support to do that.