On the mainland, it’s not uncommon for families to go to a Christmas tree farm to choose a Christmas tree to bring home and then decorate. In Hawaii, not so much. Here, we are usually stuck with whatever local stores have sitting inside Matson shipping containers. These are Christmas trees that are shipped to us from the mainland. SPAM is not the only thing thats coming to us from Minnesotta, our Christmas trees do too. So I was taken by surprise and became very enthused when I learned of a local Christmas tree farm that was just a thirty minute drive away. A tropical island in the middle of the Pacific … with a Christmas tree farm? Yep.
Helemano Farms started in 2002 as an agriculture project by Mike O’Brien. Shortly after, Mike had planted more than 15,000 Norfolk Pines with the idea of offering locally grown Christmas trees to Hawaii residents. Unfortunately, O’Brien passed away before seeing his dream come true. In 2005, Helemano Farms kept O’Brien’s dream alive by offering fresh Norfolk Pines to Hawaii residents.
“Originally from Australia’s Norfolk Island, the Norfolk pine came to Hawaii in the 19th Century. Norfolks can grow more than 150 feet tall! At Helemano Farms, we have thousands of Christmas trees from 5 to 20 feet tall. When cut down, Norfolks stay green, healthy and gorgeous for more than a month and do not turn brown like Christmas trees shipped to Hawaii. We carefully cut our Norfolks so a new tree grows from each stump! Real Christmas trees are better for our environment than artificial trees.”
Intent with supporting a local business, my wife and I decided to forego a K-Mart tree for one that was born from Hawaiian soil. The drive out to Wahiawa was only spoiled by the, now recurrent, Sunday traffic on the H1. Once we hit the H2, it was smooth sailing. Helemano Farms is located in Whitmore Village, just before a military checkpoint gate.
Once at the farm, you’ll have the opportunity to choose from Norfolk Pines or Leyland Cypress trees. Just behind the main building will be a field of Leylands, however, you’ll notice that many of them have already been cut down. We scoured this section and didn’t find one that we liked. We were a bit bummed and were now contemplating a trip to K-Mart. Resistant, we decided to take a walk through the Norfolk Pines on the right of the building. At the end we found a second batch of Leylands, many of which were still intact. Not too long after, we found our tree. It was the most symmetrical, to our eyes at least, and had the best potential for attaching a tre topper. It had character, namely an extremely long branch that sort of grew upwards like an awkwardly extended arm. That didn’t matter because this was our tree and it was a great tree. It was our first Christmas tree as husband and wife.
Directions to Helemano Farms: From the H1 Freeway: Take H2 Freeway north, then take Wahiawa Exit 8, which leads to Kamehameha Highway. Take Kam through Wahiawa Town, go over the bridge, then turn right on Whitmore Avenue. Follow Whitmore Avenue for 1.8 miles through Whitmore Village. Turn right just before the military checkpoint.