The water cooler

The water cooler

Tree huggers
“We want the trees that smell good.”

“We want the trees that smell good.”

Forest Higgins hears this remark a lot from Christmas tree shoppers in the Boston area. That’s because Nova Scotia balsam fir trees are in demand during the holiday season south of the border. “They have a fragrance,” says Higgins, owner of Higgins Family Christmas Trees in Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia. “It’s the aroma of the balsam fir that they like.”

The balsam fir’s popularity has made the province a Christmas tree exporting powerhouse. In 2015, Nova Scotia was second in Canada in the number (365,000) and value ($8 million in sales) of Christmas trees exports. Only Quebec exports and sells more Christmas trees.

The Christmas tree industry has become a big business for the province. The Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia says the sector provides about 4,000 full and part-time jobs and results in $52 million annually in economic spinoffs. Higgins’ father, Forrest Sr., started the business in the 1940s. He took it over from his dad in the late 1970s. Today, Higgins Christmas trees are found in homes across the northeast U.S., as far south as Florida and as far west as Chicago and St. Louis. The company even has two retail locations in Massachusetts.

Higgins says the unique balsam fir fragrance and the fact the tree is hardy and holds up well when it’s shipped to distant markets are two reasons why demand for Nova Scotia Christmas trees is high. The laws of supply and demand are also making 2016 holiday season potentially very merry for Nova Scotia Christmas tree farmers. Christmas tree producing states like Oregon, Washington and North Carolina have not had good yields of late. “There are not enough trees there to fill the market, so the U.S. wants to buy from us,” Higgins says. “And when you’ve got a customer who wants to buy your product, it makes it easier to sell it and sell it at a good price.”

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