A holiday classic: Kluck’s nurseryBy Lauren Ebelt on December 22nd, 2014 /
It’s not the holidays until you have your tree. Sure, radios may have singers crooning classic carols and there may even be a fresh blanket of snow on the ground—but the holidays don’t start until you come home with a freshly cut tree.
Christmas trees date back to the early 16th century, where the first written record of a decorated tree can be found in Riga, Latvia, according to the Michigan Christmas Tree Association (MCTA). It wasn’t until the 1800s, however, that the Christmas tree came to the U.S. and grew exponentially from there. Today, approximately 20-30 million real Christmas trees are sold each year across the U.S.
And many of those trees come from our state of Michigan, according to a report from the Washington Post. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of the trees harvested across the U.S. come from the northern states—but the biggest tree producer of them all is in Ashe County, North Carolina, which accounts for about 2 million trees per year.
Michigan ranks high on the list and it makes sense considering how many trees just one nursery or farm can produce. For Kluck Nursery in Saginaw, Mich., they sell on average about 4,500 trees per year.
Kluck’s is a charming nursery located at 1020 Van Wormer Road in Saginaw. It has been in operation for nearly a hundred years, dating back to the late 1920s when Walter Kluck planted some evergreens.
But the plan for the nursery to become one of the places for trees in the Saginaw area wasn’t the original plan. Before Kluck’s sold evergreens (in addition to a variety of other plants throughout the year at their nursery), it was a dairy farm. And those trees Kluck planted? A wind block for his cows.
That’s when a touch of destiny happened: “A neighbor came up to Walter and asked if he could cut down one of the trees for a Christmas tree. A light bulb went off, and so Walter planted more, and then grew plants for the house and it just snowballed from there,” retail manager Rob Thomas said.
Thomas has been with Kluck Nursery for 26 years, and has seen how the nursery has grown, but also how tradition is key around this time of year.
Wagon rides around the Kluck land is a must when visiting the nursery. Families sit on bales of hay as the wagon takes them around the property. “Not many kids get to experience the farm atmosphere, so when they come, we want to make sure they get the whole experience. It’s a neat thing a lot of families appreciate.”
While wagon rides are only available on the weekends, Kluck’s makes sure the experience of buying a tree lasts beyond just cutting it down.
Kluck’s also gives away free popcorn balls as you leave the property. “It’s a little thing, but that’s what people remember. It’s what many people come back for,” Thomas said. Kluck Nursery gives away about 12,000 of the popcorn balls every year—not to mention the dog treats they give to your four-legged family member.
And after the season is over, Kluck’s is there too, sponsoring their tree-cycling program, where patrons can bring their tree to be chipped into mulch for the nursery. In return, customers get a certificate for a small tree to put in their yard.
To Kluck’s, and Thomas, the season is about giving families an experience they’ll remember.
Kluck Nursery is just one of the many tree farms you can find around Michigan. If you’re still looking for your tree, use this map.