The Christmas Tree chosen for the White House this year heralds the Tarheel State. Father and son team Rusty and Beau Estes, operators of Peak Farm, recently received the honor for one of their Ashe County, N.C., trees, to be installed in the White House's Blue Room. Travis Birdsell, an Ashe County assistant Extension agent, now works with Christmas tree growers in Ashe County and helped the Estes prepare the Fraser fir for shipment to the District of Columbia.
An Extension press release on the choice notes selection for the honor is treated to a lengthy process and involved process. Rusty Estes acknowledges that.
"Each year, the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association has a tree contest, and if you win your state association, you get to go on and compete in the national contest against other states," Rusty explains. "You win there, you get the right to present the tree to the White House."
Once the winning farm is announced, staff from the White House pick the tree from several offerings from the farm. This year Peak Farms will also provide the Christmas tree on the White House grounds.
Cool Springs Nursery in Avery County, owned by brothers Mark and Paul Smith, took second place in the national tree contest and will provide three trees for the vice president's house.
This is the second time Rusty Estes has received the honor of presenting the top Christmas tree to the White House. In addition to this year's offering, he also provided the first family's tree in 2008. As part of the honor, Rusty, Beau and their families will get to tour the White House. They'll see their tree ornamented for the season. They'll also get the opportunity to meet First Lady Michelle Obama.
Rusty notes there is a lot of work involved in producing a high performing Christmas tree. He mentions, for example, the work with herbicides and keeping pesty deer at bay. It is payback for all the hard work when Peak Farms trees are honored.
"You get some recognition for what you do with your work," says Rusty. "And probably as a tree farmer, there is no higher recognition.
This story was adapted from a press release by Dave Caldwell, director of Communication at North Carolina State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.