Kodiak farm thrives growing Christmas trees from Lower 48

Thursday, January 3, 2019

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — Many of the tree species commonly sold as Christmas trees do not naturally grow in Alaska, so a farm in Kodiak has developed a business growing thousands of trees brought in from the Lower 48 states.

Todd Dorman told Alaska's Energy Desk that his father saw a niche in the market for a Christmas tree farm in Alaska. Dorman's father held on to the idea for years, and they decided to act on it in 2006. Dorman and his father planted 500 small fir, pine and spruce trees to see if they would grow.

"The typical way that a farmer does something: It's just kind of, (let's) see what happens," Dorman said. "So we just ordered some trees and worked up some ground and planted them out there and saw what happened."

The trees looked promising that summer, but then Kodiak's harsh winter came. "After the first winter, it just looked like a desert," Dorman said. "It didn't look like anything was alive. So, it wasn't very encouraging at all."

Still, most of the trees ended up surviving, so they planted 1,000 more the next year. The Dorman Tree Farm made its first sale in 2012.

"I remember the very first one we sold. I'd been looking at this thing for seven years, I think," Dorman said. "So when someone came along and wanted to buy it, I was a little freaked out." The farm now has 2 ½ acres of Christmas trees.