Enhancing the Spirit of Christmas
The Manitoba Christmas Tree
Growers Association offers an 'experience' as well as a tree.
The Manitoba Christmas Tree Growers Association (MCTGA) was
established in the late 80s with a mandate "To Support and
Assist our Membership by Providing Information on the Christmas
Tree Industry and to Promote the Benefits of "Farm Grown"
Christmas Trees to the General Public in Manitoba."
To facilitate this mandate the association engages in many
activities. The MCTGA distributes information, including the
Choose & Cut Directory, from a display booth in the St. Vital
Shopping Centre during November and December . This Directory
outlines where people can go to cut down their own Christmas
tree. In 1998, over 500 copies of it were distributed through
the display and from the MCTGA office. MCTGA also placed newspaper
ads in local papers promoting the availability of the directory
and where people can go for a "real" Manitoba Christmas
In 1998, there were 11 members of the association marketing
their Christmas trees and each location offered unique activities
for families to enjoy. Attractions included hot chocolate and
apple cider drinks, fire pits, reindeer, sleigh rides, a sale
of arts and crafts, and toboggan slides. Association members
believe offering the public the "experience" as well
as the tree.
The association distributes a quarterly newsletter to its
members. Helpful information on growing Christmas trees in Manitoba,
insects and diseases, and association news are all included.
Operation Christmas Tree, a research and development project,
was started in 1997. This program offers members trees to grow,
free of charge. The only commitment the member has to make to
receive the trees is to report how well the trees did - or didn't
do. Specific species are planted in various locations around
the province and information is compiled and recorded each year.
Other services offered by the Association include one day
specialty workshops that are offered to both members and non-members.
Topics range from planting techniques to shearing demonstrations
to transplanting. There is also a help line to connect members
with questions to members with the answers. Established growers
who are members of the association are always willing to help
a new grower get started.
The association has given the honour during the 1998 Christmas
season of placing a tree in the Governor-General's house in Ottawa.
The Canadian Forestry Association called the MCTGA with the request
and two days later a beautiful eight-foot Scots Pine was bound
for Ottawa. The reason Manitoba has chosen was because Swan River
was the Forestry Capital of Canada for that year.
The number of locally grown Christmas trees sold in Manitoba
is only a small percentage of the overall number sold in the
province each year. In 1998, members of MCTGA sold over 3,600
trees.The number of trees sold increases each year, as does the
number of members who are ready to market their trees.
The goal of increasing public awareness of the environmental
and economic benefits of growing and buying Manitoba grown trees
is a major focus of this association. MCTGA may be small but
the message is strong. Stay Real - Buy Manitoba.