NEWLAND — Nineteenth century American teacher Lucy Larcom was once quoted as saying, “He who plants a tree, plants hope,” and the efforts of the Cartner family have been banking on that hope for years.
Earlier this month, the Cartner family was informed that their “hope” has grown into a North Carolina Fraser fir Christmas tree that will be displayed in the Blue Room on the White House for the 2024 holidays.
The journey has been a lengthy and somewhat costly one for the Cartner Christmas Tree Farm in Newland over many years to see that dream come true. The Cartners have been growing quality Fraser firs for customers since being founded by Sam and Margaret Cartner in 1959. Under the direction of Field Manager Ronnie Beam, the farm has recently produced trees that compete often in the quest to be chosen as the representative from the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association.
Each August, actual trees are presented to the association for consideration based on meeting several criteria. These requirements include height range, leader length of the top, handle length at the base of the trunk, shape and density or evenness. Judges from the industry then choose six trees: Three Fraser firs and three from other categories. If a tree wins in the state competition, it is then eligible for the national competition.
Since the national competition for a tree at the White House only happens every other year, this August trees were chosen by judges and the public at a tree farm near St. Paul, Minnesota. At this event trees were selected both for Christmas 2023 and Christmas 2024, with the next national championship competition will be held in 2025 in the state of Michigan.
The Cartners have entered the competition several times in recent years and are “very excited” to have been chosen this year, said Sam Cartner with the farm. The undertaking for submitting entries for consideration not only involve the expense of transportation and “showing” of a seven- to eight-foot “representative” tree at the state event, but then there’s the transportation of the tree to the national competition. Tree growers must choose their own trucking transport and absorb the cost.
There are also special considerations to be made for the tree going to the event. This year the Cartners explained that they transported “their tree on a mattress” to ensure a safe and show-worthy specimen. A tree at the national competition faces only about 12 to 14 other trees from states as diverse as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and New York, which is also a factor in the location of the yearly event.
More information and national attention will be forthcoming in Fall of 2024 when “the” tree is actually chosen. Requirements for that Blue Room Tree mean a height of about 18 feet which will be personally chosen by the White House staff. The actual harvest of the tree will also be covered, as well as the transportation to the White House, in late November 2024.
For the Cartner Christmas Tree Farm, the trees planted several years ago “on hope” have produced and made that hope become a reality. Their tree will be on display for the country to view in 2024.