Balsam takes its seasonal bough

Too bad radio can’t convey aromas because when you step into the Christmas wreath workshop of Jenny and Sam McFadden, well, it’s an olfactory rush.

(Yes, as the former farm reporter for MPR years ago, I’m quite aware there are instances where it’s a very good thing radio can’t convey smells. But I digress.)

The McFadden’s old barn is stacked nearly to the rafters with balsam fir boughs and this is when their wreath-making production is in its highest gear.

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Here’s my snapshot of Jenny and Sam in the barn of their Deer River farm in northern Minnesota.

You can hear my radio story about accompanying them on a balsam bough harvesting trek into the forest and then a tour of their wreath making enterprise Friday afternoon as part of All Things Considered on the network news stations of Minnesota Public Radio.

I captured images of the busy headquarters of Jen’s Wreaths and there is also visual evidence of one of their employee’s preferred methods of bandaging wreath-making wounds there as well. (Note: first aid tape doesn’t always have to be white.)

Nearly everyone knows what the balsam fir looks like. Its pleasing cone shape and scent make it a favorite among Christmas tree consumers, and the boughs are favored by wreath makers because they stay fresh for a relatively long time.

Minnesota has lots of balsam fir which puts the state among the top suppliers of Christmas wreaths and other green holiday decorations. Jenny and Sam say they’ll make as many as 8,000 wreaths in their 2 to 3 month long season.

Some of the state’s bigger wreath making companies make and sell hundreds of thousands of wreaths, garlands and other products creating an important source of seasonal income for temporary workers.

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