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Despite reported shortage of Christmas Trees, still plenty firs to be found in Windsor-Essex

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People in search of a real Christmas tree in southern Ontario this year should be in luck if they’re willing to look around.

Some tree farms are already close to closing for the season as demand continues to grow, while others are just getting started, despite reported shortages in other places across Canada.

“We've been doing pretty good considering the weather,” said Ovide Bastien, owner of Bastien’s Christmas Tree Farm in Essex.

“We’ve got enough trees in the field. This is our 18th year selling,’ said Bastien, who expects to be open until Dec. 23.

He explained there’s no shortage of live trees on the 49 acre farm after concern about supply several years ago arose, suggesting big box stores are experiencing more of an issue today.

“We don’t have a shortage anymore,” said Bastien. “We saw that coming, we took care of it, started planting heavy seven years ago and we’re kind of just getting out of that.”

“Best place I know of to come to,” exclaimed customer Tim Cookson with daughter Nicole, who have been keeping with the family tradition of buying a real tree together for the last 20 years.

“It's fun. We get out before the snow. It’s a tradition we've been doing since the kids were born so they like it. We like it.”

Christmas tree farm in Essex, Ont. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

According to the Canadian Christmas Trees Association (CCTA), younger families keeping up with newer traditions are what’s keeping the demand for real trees this holiday season high.

“We do see the people are returning and we attribute that to a couple of things,” said CCTA executive director Shirley Brennan. “People still aren't traveling like they used to which is which is good for us. They are coming out to the farm but we're seeing those younger generations that really liked that natural tree, and so they're starting their own traditions and that isn't going away anytime soon.”

Brennan said there are between 12 to 18 Christmas tree farms of varying sizes throughout the Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent regions.

“I know of one that's closing this weekend,” Brennan said. “Other than that everybody says they are open and have plenty of trees.”

Brennan told CTV News a five per cent price increase across the country this year due to the cost of running a farm hasn’t slowed sales down.

“It's been amazing so far,” she said, “Some tree farms have just opened as of last weekend and expect to be open right till just about Christmas. Others have opened in the middle of November and are ready to close.”

“If your tree farm closes because they have cut everything that they can in their fields. And keep in mind trees are still in the fields because we run on a 10 to 14 year cycle. So those trees you see in the field are for next year and the year after. So if a farm has closed because they have cut the trees that they need to or have available then you may have to come out of your comfort zone and find one down the road that is not the one you normally go to.”

Meanwhile, real trees have been selling fast at the Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex ReStore where a supply of donated trees is expected to be sold out soon at 20 dollars a piece.

“It is a fantastic deal!” said community engagement manager Hope Lovell. “We were really fortunate. This is the first year we've ever done live trees.”

“We're probably going to see the end of these trees by tomorrow at the latest. So if you do want to tree I would head on over.”

Lovell added, “The bright side is if you come and they're sold out, we have some artificial trees inside the store that are also a great deal right now so you won't leave empty handed without a tree, I'm sure.” 

 Christmas trees at the Habitat ReSale store in Windsor, Ont. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

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