By Jann Wiswall

What’s your family’s Christmas tree shopping tradition? Was yours up and decorated by Thanksgiving weekend? Do you have a particular day that you and the kids decorate? Are you a cut-your-own tree or a pre-cut tree family?

No matter what your tradition, Cattaraugus County has an abundance of farms and stands that offer just what you need.

In Little Valley, Barnside Farms owners Ray and Rose Jablonski have been welcoming tree-buyers for old-fashioned tree shopping fun for decades. You can walk through the field of neatly pruned trees, make your pick and Ray will cut it for you.

The farm is now harvesting its third planting since starting the farm 29 years ago. “The first 10 years go slow,” said Ray, who points out that Christmas trees farms start with saplings, which take a decade to grow before they’re ready to go home.

Barnside Farms, which also offers freshly made wreaths, is located at 9272 Route 242 in Little Valley and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (716) 938-9837.

4C Tree Farm at 239 Route 322 in South Dayton (14138), also will cut your tree for you, but if you prefer, you can cut it yourself. While you’re there, pick up your wreaths, garland, table toppers and other greenery. Wagon rides are offered on weekends. The farm is open Mondays through Fridays from 3:30 – 9 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. (fields close at 4 p.m.) Call (716) 988-5570.

You can also choose and cut your own tree at Over the Hill Tree Farm at 9512 Coon Road, Gowanda 14070. There you can find pre-cut fresh trees, wreaths, kissing balls, centerpieces and more. Prices vary. Hours: Mondays through Thursdays, 1-5 p.m.; Fridays through Sundays., 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Call (716) 864-2113.

Dixieland Tree Farm at 12189 Versailles Silver Creek Road in Irving offers cut-your-own trees and offers hayrides on Saturdays and Sundays.  Tree wrapping, tree stands, wreaths and other holiday décor are also available.  The farm is open weekdays from noon to dusk and weekends from 10 a.m. to dusk. Call (716) 532-3090.

In Franklinville, you can cut your tree at Johnson’s Santa’s Forest at 1597 E. Hill Road. Enjoy free cocoa and coffee and stock up on wreaths, boughs, baked goods, gifts, decorations and more in the gift shop. Have a friendly dog? Bring him/her along for the festivities! Johnson’s is open Mondays through Firdays from noon to 5 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (716) 676-3322.

If you’re pressed for time or would rather not hike through pine forests, you can still have plenty of fun and success with pre-cut trees.

At 19 Main Street in Randolph, you’ll find a great selection of fresh-cut trees, as well as large and small wreaths, poinsettias, centerpieces, gift baskets and a great array of specialty food gifts at Peaches and Cream. They’re open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Call (716) 358-2241.

In Olean, visit Miller’s Farm Market at 1685 Olean Portville Road or Pleasant Valley Greenhouse and Nursery at 2871 Rt. 16N, which both have a good selection of already cut trees, wreaths and other holiday greens.

Perry-Dice Family Feeds in Allegany (13 E. Union St.) has a nice supply of locally grown, freshly cut trees, along with wreaths, boughs and more. They’re open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Mondays from noon-5 p.m. Call (716) 379-8034.

Halls Produce at 5118 Route 219 in Great Valley also has a great selection of pre-cut trees and wreaths.  Call (716) 945-4429.

Why Choose Fresh Christmas Trees?

The National Christmas Tree Association, a Christmas tree farm advocacy group that annually provides the White House with its famous tree, encourages the use of real Christmas trees for a number of reasons. They include:

Real Christmas Trees Benefit the Environment
While they’re growing, Real Christmas Trees support life by absorbing carbon dioxide and other gases and emitting fresh oxygen. The farms that grow Christmas Trees stabilize soil, protect water supplies and provide refuge for wildlife while creating scenic green belts. Often, Christmas Trees are grown on soil that doesn’t support other crops.

Real Christmas Trees Are Renewable
Real Christmas Trees are grown on farms just like any other agricultural crop. To ensure a constant supply, Christmas Tree growers plant one to three new seedlings for every tree they harvest. On the other hand, artificial trees are a petroleum-based product manufactured primarily in Chinese factories. The average family uses an artificial tree for only six to nine years before throwing it away, where it will remain in a landfill for centuries after disposal.

Real Christmas Trees Are Recyclable
Real Christmas Trees are biodegradable, which means they can be easily reused or recycled for mulch and other purposes.*

*Reprinted with permission, National Christmas Tree Association