MEDFORD, Ore.– Christmas comes once a year, and one way families celebrate is by going out to cut their very own Christmas tree. This summer though, one of the oldest U-Cut tree farms in the valley ran into some trouble that could put Christmas in jeopardy.
The U Cut Christmas Tree Farm in the hills of south Medford has been opened, owned and operated since the mid-’80s by the Ryerson family. Each year around Thanksgiving the farm provides holiday cheer for families across the valley. But recently, that cheer was replaced with tragedy.
While Christmas isn’t for another several months, getting ready for the holidays is a 9 to 5 for owner Larry Ryerson.
“It’s a full-time job,” he said. “I’m out here almost every day working on them.”
Started back in 1979, Ryerson retired from his job as a school teacher and coach in Central Point to begin growing Christmas trees on his family’s 10-acre plot. He says it’s more of a hobby than a job and it’s all to make sure families can take home a little bit of the holiday spirit.
“We’re here more for them than trying to make money here, he said. “I appreciate getting money but it’s such a joy for them to come out and, traditionally, they go out and they cut their own tree.”
This summer though the farm faced an unfortunate loss. The Ryerson’s home they built 45 years ago burned down in a fireworks accident on July Fourth while Larry and his wife were in Portland.
“It was a wooden sparkler. It burned off and fell over the deck and right into the ivy and started from there,” he said.
No one was hurt and the farm was unscorched but the Ryerson’s lost everything in their home and $25,000 worth of equipment.
“Tryna get pieces back together now and tryna keep the farm going and tryna get the house going,” said Ryerson.
Larry says with this setback, it’s up in the air on whether they’ll make the Thanksgiving opening. He says he wants to make an effort but they’ve fallen a month behind with work that could’ve helped.
But there is some hope. Larry’s daughter Tesha, Rogue Wear by Southern Oregon Embroidery in Medford. This week she made the decision to sell a U Cut Christmas Tree Farm shirt to help raise money for her parents. She says her father refused to open a GoFundMe.
The feedback, however, has been overwhelming, especially for Larry.
“It was a real shocker to me because I didn’t even know…there’s so many good people out there,” he said through tears. “I said she didn’t have to do that and she said she wanted to do something and a lot of people out there wanted to help.”
Larry was surprised by the community support and appreciates everyone wanting to help. While there’s still a lot that needs to get done, this Christmas gift came early from one daughter to her father.
Since Rogue Wear started selling shirts Thursday over 100 shirts have been sold. Each one is $20 with 100 percent of the proceeds going to help the farm.
You can purchase the shirt online at Rogue Wear by SOE or click here.