"They say there's an association for everything."
That's how Rick Dungey, public relations manager for the National Crhistmas Tree Association, begans explaining the mission of his organization, which is headquartered here in Chesterfield at 16020 Swingley Ridge Road. Dungey has been working with NCTA, as its called, since 1998.
"I didn't know a lot about Christmas trees when I first started and now I can tell you just about anything you would like to know," he said.
The group itself dates back to 1955 and has grown to include 1,000 members, who include those involved in the growing and selling of live conifers. They moved their headquarters to Chesterfield in 2005 and had been located in Creve Couer before that. They also maintain an office in Lexington, KY.
"One of the main goals is to share and dissemenate information to the general public and anyone else interested in how they are grown, where they come from and how to take care of them," Dungey said.
To that end, their website is full of helpful information for any Christmas tree owner or potential buyer, including the "Tree Talk" blog covering some of the most frequently asked questions.
There's also some useful statistics for those curious about the industry. It's a bigger business than you might think, with 30.8 million real trees purchased and $1.07 billion spent in an effort to spruce up homes across the country, according to a consumer tracking poll commissioned by NCTA.
As a group representing live Christmas tree producers, Dungey has a particular disdain for their articifial counterparts ("Platic tree-shaped decorations" in his words), but it seems he has little to fear. According to the tracking poll, only 9.5 million artificial trees were sold in 2011.
According to the stats, the recent year with the most holiday cheer was 2007, when a combined total of 48.7 million trees were purchased. Sales have slacked off since then, but Dungey is hopeful they would soon be growing tall again.
"I'm hearing a lot of optimism out there," he said. "It sounds like in most places it was a pretty good opening weekend."
Here are some places in Chesterfield to find a live tree:
This farm is 30 minutes west of St. Charles and offers trees, wreaths, swags, and other specialty items.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 23-5 and Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9. Open Dec. 15 and 16 subject to availability. Contact the owners after Dec. 9 to check.
Address: 25882 S. Lohman Road, Wright City, MO.
Trees: Scotch and White pines
Directions: Take Interstate 70 to exit 199 (Wright City/Innsbrook). Turn left on Elm Street (Highway F). Follow the Highway F signs for 3 miles to the intersection of Highway F and Highway M. Turn left on Highway M and
travel 1 mile to S. Lohman Road and turn right. Watch for the signs.
This 27-acre farm has choose-and-cut Scotch Pines and precut Douglas and Fraser firs. Prices range from $4/foot to $6.50/foot.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday after Thanksgiving and weekends until Christmas.
Address: 1125 Dietrich Road, Foristell, MO
Trees: Scotch Pines, Douglas and Fraser firs
Directions: Take I-70 west toward Wright City to exit 203 Foristell. Proceed down Highway V and turn left on Dietrich Road. Drive two miles, and the farm is on your left.
The 75-acre family farm only accepts cash and checks.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday after Thanksgiving and weekends until Christmas
Address: 1668 Four Mile Road, Washington, MO
Trees: Choose and cut Canaan Fir, White Pine and Norway Spruce. Precut Fraser Fir. Prices are $6.50/foot.
Directions: Take Interstate 44 west to exit 251/Washington (Highway 100 West). Proceed 10 miles on MO-100 to Washington. From Washington, turn south (left at First Bank) on Highway/Route A and travel three miles to Four Mile Road. Go west for three miles on Four Mile Road to farm entrance. Do not turn onto North Four Mile Road, which dead-ends.
Grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and kids run this family farm.
Hours: 9 a.m. to sunset, Friday after Thanksgiving and each Saturday and Sunday until Christmas
Address: 228 S. Lindsay Road, Old Monroe, MO
Trees: Scotch and White pines
Directions: Take I-70 west to Highway 79 in St. Peters. Travel north about 13 miles to Highway 47. Turn left onto Highway 47. Travel about 3.8 miles to South Lindsay Road on the left. Watch for the signs. Turn left onto South Lindsay Road. The farm is 0.7 miles on the right.
Sunbrite Christmas Tree Farm
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas.
Address: 435 Guthrie Road, O'Fallon, MO 63366
Trees: Scotch pines, Canaan, Douglas and Concolor firs, Norway and Blue spruces, and White pines