For a variety of reasons, this is one of our favorite times of the year, what with holiday cheer, gatherings with friends and family, bright lights ablaze to contrast with the short days and darkness, and perhaps best of all, cutting down a fresh tree for Christmas.
Ok, understandably, not everyone is into this seasonal ritual. Some folks dislike the mess these live trees bring into their homes, and instead prefer to go with an artificial one. Others may look upon this centuries old tradition as some form of modern day environmental degradation and back off. It’s their small way, one supposes, of trying to save the planet.
Be that as it may, and we acknowledge each of those preferences, we still enjoy the fun of getting out and about in the woods, or on a tree farm, and finding our own Christmas tree.
When our daughter was young, we made a yearly trek to Grandma’s Christmas Tree Farm on New Brooklyn Road to identify and then cut down a favorite-looking specimen. We’ve continued the tradition, even as our kid has grown up, gone to college, got married and moved on.
Last year, my wife and I got a permit from the U.S. Forest Service and – in the pouring rain – cut down a lovable looking tree on a slippery slope in a rather dense forest in the Olympics.
This season, we decided to stay local and visited Bainbridge Island/Suyematsu Farms on 13610 Manzanita Road N.E., and checked out their inventory of u-cut and pre-cut trees. The farm, which has about seven acres of trees under cultivation, a big red barn on its property, a similarly colored 1949 Dodge pick-up truck – suitable for photographing kids with Santa – and a real throwback Norman Rockwellish atmosphere, was founded by Akio Suyematsu.
The revered Japanese farmer passed away more than a decade ago, and the tree farm, along with some land associated with Akio’s traditional farm at 9229 Day Road, is now owned outright or leased by Karen Selvar.
Much of the Day Road facility was bought by the City of Bainbridge Island prior to Akio’s passing and is now managed by the non-profit, Friends of the Farm, which leases much of land to local farmers. During the summer months, you can still buy flats of strawberries and raspberries at both Suyematsu locations, while the Manzanita spread doubles as a Dahlia paradise and the Day Road site gets lots of props for its pumpkin patch in the early fall.
As we speak, BI/Suyematsu Farms (https://suyematsufarms.com/) is the only remaining full-time u-cut and pre-cut farm on the island. There are a number of others still operating in Bremerton, Poulsbo and Port Orchard. A local Boy Scout Troop is selling pre-cut trees at a lot adjacent to Ace Hardware and will do so until they run out.
Over the past decade, BI Farms has had a bit of a challenge growing trees on its property, as drought has made it tough for saplings to take root.
“We planted 5,000 saplings and the drought killed them,” recalls Diane Wierzbicki, a partner in the tree farm with Selvar. “Then we planted another 5,000 and got hit by another drought.” As a result, the farm has turned to pre-cuts from larger tree farms in Shelton and other locations in Washington State to help pad its inventory. This season, BI Farms ordered 700 pre-cut trees and expects to sell them all. Last year, during the height of the Pandemic it played it safe and originally ordered just 200 pre-cuts but sold them all by Dec. 10, before ordering more.
Because of the crazy weather patterns of late, the farm has only a limited supply of trees that are six-feet or taller, but Wierzbicki sees this situation changing over the next several years.
“Soon we will reach our peak and then we’ll have a lot more u-cuts,” Wierzbicki says. “In about two years or so, we’ll have a lot more six foot (or higher trees). That’s what people really want to cut.”
But don’t fret, there are plenty trees on the farm. We cut a beautifully shaped Grand Fir that is now sitting nicely in front of the picture window in our living room.
Trees at BI Farms are sold by the foot, with trees four to six feet tall selling for $12 a foot. Anything over six feet fetches $14 a foot. The farm also sells wreaths and garlands and is open seven days a week (12-5, Monday-Friday and 9-5 on weekends). If you have kids, Santa will be on the grounds on Saturdays and Sundays and likely will be available for photos.
Back before Covid-19 transformed our world, the Big Red Barn on the property was a Christmas store, where patrons could buy cookies, hot chocolate, cider and artisan gifts, but “we’re doing nothing (like that) this year,” Wierzbicki adds. “We’re being very conservative because of health concerns.”
BI Farms takes cash, checks and credit cards!
Where to Buy U-Cut/Pre-Cut Trees in Kitsap County
Thanks to our friends at Visit Kitsap, here’s a list of places throughout Kitsap County to cut and buy trees. If you know of a location not included in this list, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alpine U-Cut – 11001 Lake Flora Rd SW, Bremerton – pre-cut & you-cut – Nov 20 – Dec 24, 9:00 am – dusk daily
Bacon’s Christmas Tree Farm – 9381 W Belfair Valley Rd, Bremerton – Open 8am-4pm, Nov 27 – Dec 6th or until our pre-cut inventory is gone.
Huberts Christmas Trees – 4635 Seabeck Hwy NW Bremerton, WA – pre-cut & you-cut – Open 9 – 5 daily starting November 21 thru Dec 13 except Thanksgiving Day.
Olmsted Tree Farm – 17526 Clear Creek Rd, NW, Poulsbo, WA 98370 – pre-cut & you-cut – Nov 21, Mon – Thurs 10:30 am – Dusk | Fri, Sat & Sun 9 am – Dusk
The Wreath Works – 15384 Glenwood Road SW, Port Orchard 98367 – Thru December 20th (unless they run low before) 9:00am to dusk daily.
Christmas Traditions Tree Farm – 9992 Sidney Road, Port Orchard 98367 – pre-cut & you-cut – Mon: noon – 4:30 pm, Thurs: noon – 4:30 pm, Fri 9 am -3:30 pm.