The Hutton Settlement will begin its sixth annual Christmas tree sale on Saturday, and for the first time there will be U-cut trees available as the first trees planted at the settlement are finally mature enough to sell.
Hutton Settlement was founded as a home for orphans in 1919 and still houses children who don’t have a home or, for a variety of reasons, cannot stay in their home.
The tree sale is a fundraiser for the settlement’s Salute (Service and Leadership United Through Education) community service club. The club is led by resident Ericka Clement, 15, who is also heading the tree sale. She’ll be outside making sure everything goes smoothly and is working on a staffing schedule. “It’s fun,” she said. “It’s a little cold, but it’s worth it.”
There are 8,000 trees planted in tidy rows. Each resident is assigned to tend one or more rows of trees during the year. The rows are weeded to help the trees mature faster and not require as much water.
“We want them to be self-reliant, just like we want our students to be when they graduate,” said Don Hyslop, the settlement’s natural resources consultant. Like children, however, the young trees have to be watered when very young so they’ll grow, he said.
Clement said taking care of the trees really isn’t that difficult and is a once-a-week chore during the spring and summer. “The first two weeks are the worst because they haven’t been worked on,” she said. She confessed, however, that weeding the trees wasn’t her favorite chore. “I prefer the gardening,” she said, referring to the settlement’s garden that benefits local food banks. “The vegetables and the flowers grow faster. But I enjoy giving back to the community.”
Hyslop said the settlement has a tree for everyone, even “Charlie Brown” trees that might be a bit small. There will also be pre-cut trees available as in years past. “We can’t really raise some kinds that people like, like noble firs,” Hyslop said. Prices will vary depending on size and type, with some as low as $5.
While the annual sale is a fundraiser bringing in about $15,000 a year, one of the points is to teach the residents some business skills, Hyslop said. It’s also about “getting kids off the wires and out on the land,” he said. After the sale every resident who tended the trees and helped during the sale will be paid for their efforts.