The Story of Little Saps - Part 2

Little Saps Owner and Founder, Carrie McClain

Little Saps Owner and Founder, Carrie McClain

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In The Story of Little Saps - Part 1, I told you that my parents are Christmas tree farmers and explained how our farm came to be. The next part is my chapter - how Little Saps came to be and what I hope it will become.

Agriculture has cycles - cycles of plenty and cycles of scarcity. For a variety of reasons, natural or man-made, some years there is an overabundance of a certain crop and other years certain crops can be difficult to find. The cycle moves quickly for many crops (from year to year) because most agricultural products are harvested in the year they are planted. But Christmas trees are unique. Christmas trees are harvested 10-20 years after they are planted, so cycles of plenty and scarcity for Christmas trees are the result of things that happened over a decade before and compounded by things that happen in the years since.

The Christmas tree industry recently came out of a glut and into a shortage. The glut was due to the over-planting of Christmas trees - Fraser Fir in our area. Growing Christmas trees seemed like good, easy money and 10-15 years ago, the number of seedlings planted skyrocketed. But the market was unbalanced - too many nurseries planted too many seeds - and because seedlings were so plentiful, the price of seedlings tanked, and some producers couldn't find a market for all the seedlings that they had, so they were forced to plow them under. This resulted in an era of scarcity - in which it was difficult to find Fraser Fir seedlings, because none of the nurseries planted any more. Fast forward to today, the result of the years when it was difficult to find seedlings means that the Christmas tree industry, as a whole, is experiencing a shortage of the most popular sizes (5'-9') in the most popular varieties (Fraser Fir, for example).  

My father, determined not to be caught short again, decided to experiment with raising his own seedlings and transplants. He built a few greenhouses and started raising Christmas trees from seeds. All of a sudden, we were surrounded by baby Christmas trees - something new and different for me.

Perhaps it was the mother in me, but I fell in love with those baby trees!  I couldn't believe that something so tiny had the potential to grow so big. It was awe-inspiring. To think that I could put that little tree in a pot at my home and every time I looked at it, I would know that it was a tree. For a brief moment in time, I could hold something so gigantic in the palm of my hand. There was so much potential in this little life, this little sap. I thought of my own children. So much potential in those little saps.

And while I love Christmas trees - the feel, the smell, the tradition - and the joy that real trees bring to holiday celebrations around the world, I love the idea of sharing something that has roots. Something that will endure for years and years. Most especially, I love that by sharing our Little Saps with others, we are helping make the world a greener place. We are helping to ensure a clean future for our children and grandchildren. My family and I recently visited the polar bear exhibit at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. The exhibit teaches visitors how to be good stewards of the environment. The first suggestion - plant a tree!

Think about all the things that we associate with trees - strength, wisdom, beauty, healing. There are few things in life that are so inspirational in so many different ways. 

In our world, we need inspiration. We need strength, courage, and wisdom to face the challenges that life throws at us and dare to rise above them. We need beauty, grace, and a healing spirit to see beyond the conflict and tension swirling around us and learn to love others.  We need something to remind us that our dreams - whatever they are - are possible, even in the face of overwhelming odds. 

And that's why I started Little Saps - to inspire all of us to dream our big dreams. To imagine the world we want to live in, the life we want to lead, and to inspire us to work towards it with confidence, enthusiasm, and most of all, hope.