Local tree farm has its own Heritage

Nobles Only Christmas Tree Farm and the Timberwolves team up annually

VANCOUVER —It started with an appreciation for wrestling.

Troy and Adrienne Frei know that wrestlers are not afraid of work, not afraid of getting a job done in sometimes tough conditions.

This year, the owners of Nobles Only Christmas Tree Farm will find out if basketball players have the same work ethic.

Last weekend, the Heritage High School wrestlers volunteered to work at the farm, helping out with all sorts of details. They could be seen carrying a tree to a customer’s car, then securing the tree to the vehicle. They were stocking inventory, too, lifting the trees onto their shoulders and carrying them to the right spot. 

Erik Gonzalez, the athletic director for Heritage High School, uses the chainsaw as Troy Frei (left) holds the tree steady on the day after Thanksgiving at the Nobles Only Christmas Tree Farm. The Frei family owns the farm and donates to Heritage athletics. The wrestling team was there last week, and the girls and boys basketball teams will help over the next two weekends. Photo by Paul Valencia

In exchange, the Freis donate money to the Timberwolves. 

“We’d be here anyway,” said Erik Gonzalez, Heritage’s athletic director and wrestling coach. “We’d do it even without the donation. I like to get our kids out, working. This is perfect.”

It was sunny and chilly the day after Thanksgiving 2019, one of the busiest days in the Christmas Tree industry. But there are some years when it’s cold and rainy. No matter the conditions, the Timberwolves are there.

“Most of our kids love it and they come back year after year,” Gonzalez said. “They look forward to it every year. Troy asks for six or eight kids. I always bring more.”

“We get a lot of brotherhood and teamwork going. A good time to spend with the family,” wrestler Alex Newberry said.

“The pine needles smell really good so it’s a good atmosphere to hang out in,” added teammate Zephen Zabik.

Nobles Only is located at 14004 NE 87th Avenue in Vancouver. Photo by Paul Valencia

It has been kind of a tradition for the wrestling team to work at the farm. This year, the basketball players were invited, too. This weekend, the Heritage girls basketball team will be at the farm. And the following week, the boys basketball team will get a chance to use its back muscles, too.

“That’s part of being the AD now,” Gonzalez said. “Now I can spread the wealth around a little bit.”

The Freis started the business in 2007. At first, Troy acknowledged, making money was the incentive. 

“I’m in sales,” he said, noting his full-time job in real estate. “Why not sell trees?”

He quickly realized the business is more than just a numbers game. He noticed regulars, families coming from one year to the next. One couple brought a dog one year. The next year, the same couple had the dog and a baby. Families were growing and still coming out to the farm. The Freis knew then that their tree farm was part of another family’s Christmas tradition.

Alex Newberry, a wrestler from Heritage High School, puts a tree in the right spot at the Nobles Only Christmas Tree Farm. Photo by Paul Valencia

Now, the Freis welcome customers with cocoa, marshmallows, and candy canes. There is a fire pit, too. 

“It’s a relaxing environment where you can pick out a tree with your family and a place you want to make a memory,” Troy said.

The farm allows customers to cut their own noble trees, but the farm also has a large inventory of pre-cut trees of a number of varieties. (Yes, the Nobles Only name is for those who prefer to cut their own trees. But the business has more than just nobles.)

The business took off, but so, too, did the manual labor associated with the business. The Freis, who have children in athletics, figured wrestlers would be great at working the farm. A few years ago, Heritage wrestlers and Nobles Only started working together.

This year, the basketball players will join in on the fun.

“It’s a great bonding time for the kids,” Gonzalez said.

Note: Nobles Only Christmas Tree Farm is open 1 to 7 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends while supplies last. The farm is located at 14004 NE 87th Ave. For updates on pricing, availability and hours, go to the farm’s Facebook page: Nobles Only Tree Farm

Heritage wrestlers used their break to get warm by the fire at the Nobles Only Christmas Tree Farm. Photo by Paul Valencia
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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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