Growing up, we always had a real tree for Christmas and I continued that tradition once I was done with apartment living and had a real house in which to put the real tree. However, when we moved here, we decided to purchase a fake tree. As well as not knowing what to do with a real tree at the end of the season, I did start to wonder about the environmental aspects of cutting down a tree that may simply end up as garbage after a month.
I actually do like our little, white, fake tree, but sometimes I long for the look and smell of a real tree. I make do by visiting the Christmas tree market that opens up around December 6 at Janskerkhof. It’s so picturesque, especially in the evening under the glow of the lamps.
However, I may start reconsidering a real tree again in the future. I’ve recently learned about the Stichting Kerstbomenverhuur Utrecht (Christmas Tree Rental Foundation). As the name suggests, you can rent a Christmas tree for three weeks, from mid December to early January. The key is that the tree comes with its roots so that it can be replanted after the holiday season.
The foundation began as a neighbourhood initiative in 2011, and has grown and prospered as a non-profit run by volunteers. The process is simple. There is a set date on which people can pick up their tree and a set date on which they return it. Prior to the pickup date, there is a period in which trees can be ordered. All trees must be ordered in advance so that trees are not unnecessarily dug up. At the end of the season, they are returned to the grower and replanted. Around 90% of the trees survive the process each year. Any that aren’t fit for replanting can still be returned and they’ll then be turned into mulch to help the other trees thrive.
The cost of the tree is only 26€, which includes a 5€ deposit, which you get back when you return the tree. The order deadline for this year is Sunday, 8 December, with pickup taking place Saturday, December 14, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The return date is Saturday, January 4, 2014 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. You’re responsible for transporting the tree both ways, but they do have a few wheelbarrows and bakfietsen available for people to use in a pinch. Still, it’s best to plan on providing your own transport, be it bike, auto, or muscle power.
The tree itself is usually between 1.5 and 2 meters in height and is a Serbian spruce grown in small numbers in Achterveld (Leusden) and the Veluwe. If you want more choice in the look of your tree, you’re best getting there early on the pickup day. It’s first come, first serve to anyone who has already purchased and reserved their tree.
If you’re not in the Utrecht area, but still want to rent a Christmas tree, there are other groups offering similar programs.
It really is a great idea if you long for the look and smell of a real Christmas tree, but hate the thought of trees perishing at the end of the season. Now you can have your holiday spirit and decorate it, too!