For many, the conclusion of Thanksgiving means it’s time to get ready for Christmas, and Olmsted Tree Farms is prepared for just that as it opened to the public on Black Friday.
This year marks the tree farm’s 53rd season, providing three locations in Kitsap County. The main 10-acre farm is located on Clear Creek Road near Poulsbo, where they offer U-cut and pre-cut trees. The other two lots are off Highway 305 in Poulsbo and Highway 303 in East Bremerton. Farm co-owner Josh Olmsted explained the difference between the farm and the smaller lots.
“The difference is (the lots) are primarily pre-cut trees,” he said. “We grow most of our trees down in Shelton and another farm we have down in Winlock. All these trees are grown by us, we harvest those trees and bring them up on a weekly basis so people can just come in and grab their tree. We load it up and help them with that.”
All locations will be open seven days a week with added safety precautions per the state’s COVID-19 regulations. This year, the tree farm will not be able to offer pre-tagging in the U-cut field, so they are expanding their pre-cut selection even more.
Olmsted said by far the most popular type of Christmas trees are Noble Firs (70%), followed by Nordmann and Douglas firs (30%). They also offer Fraser and Grand firs, all ranging in size from tabletops to 15 feet. “We did have a busy year last year so we’re kind of urging people to come out early if they want a U-cut just to make sure they get what they’re looking for,” Olmsted said.
Last year, the farm started a tree delivery service due to the pandemic, and that was a hit because it was a time saver and convenient. To get a tree delivered, you must reside in Kitsap County. Prices vary depending on where you live.
“It’s actually really taken off,” Olmsted said. “Everybody who got trees last year is doing it again, plus a bunch more as well. That’s a great option for people if they don’t want to come out here and deal with the conditions of the rain and the wind and trekking through the field. This will definitely be a permanent thing that we’re going to do.”
Coming to the farm is a true, authentic experience, especially for children. But again this year, they will have to suspend free hot cocoa and popcorn due to COVID concerns.
“The difference with coming to the Clear Creek farm is we do have a bonfire going, we do have a sleigh for pictures,” Olmsted said. “It’s just a more festive atmosphere than the other lots if you’re looking for the kids to kind of run around and stretch their legs.”
While many businesses suffered last winter due to COVID restrictions, Olmsted said their farm had a “big year.” He doesn’t expect it to be as big this year as more people traveling during the holidays, prices have increased and other complications. “We’re hoping to duplicate what we did last year, but now people are doing a bit more traveling, and people aren’t staying home as much,” he said.
“We’re continuing to plant every year,” Olmsted added. “This year was awful with the four or five days it got over 100 degrees. We lost most of our saplings, we burned a lot of trees. You got to take the good with the bad. This year we lost a lot of money on the growing aspect of things. It’s just the nature of farming; you can’t play Mother Nature, it plays you. Unfortunately this year, the price is going up on everything.”
Olmsted Tree Farms started in 1968 when Paul and Vivian Olmsted were just 18. They had three sons-Sean, Matt and Josh- who became involved in the harvest and selling of trees at a young age. Today, the tree farms are owned by Josh and his wife Kassie.
“I don’t think we’re going anywhere,” he said. “I’m super proud of what we’ve done. I have a little boy that’s only seven years old, and he’s out here running around with me. He can run tractors, he can drag trees. It’s fun because that’s what I used to do. Seeing my little boy out here helping me just like I was doing with my dad back in those days. It’s a good family tradition, and the name is recognized because we’ve been doing it since 1968.”
Olmsted said customer service is the No. 1 reason why they’ve been able to sustain their business for so long. “We try to be the nicest people in town,” he said. “It is our community, we all live here so we just want to make sure our name is represented. We staff up our lots with more people than necessary just to make sure people aren’t waiting.”