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Covington-grown tree earns spot in Vice President's Christmas decorations
Berry's Tree Farm among national award winners whose products will adorn President's, VP's homes in D.C.
Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry of Berry’s Tree Farm in Covington stands with the Leyland cypress tree that was honored as a Reserve Grand Champion by the National Christmas Tree Association. - photo by Special to The News

COVINGTON, Ga. — A Newton County-grown Christmas tree will adorn the Vice President’s official residence in Washington, D.C., this holiday season.

A tree from Berry’s Tree Farm in Covington was one of two Reserve Grand Champion award winners in the 2021 National Christmas Tree Contest in North Carolina on Friday, Aug. 6.

National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) members chose a Leyland cypress tree from Berry’s for the award, owner Chuck Berry said.

It was his first attempt at entering a national Christmas tree competition, Berry said.

“It was truly an honor and somewhat of a surprise,” Berry said.

He said the “surprise” for him was his tree winning despite cypress being more popular as Christmas trees in the South than in other parts of the U.S.

The NCTA’s 2021 and 2022 Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Grower award winners will continue a 56-year tradition of delivering farm-grown Christmas trees to the White House and Vice President’s residence, a news release stated. 

The award allows Berry to place his winning tree in the residence at Number One Observatory Circle on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., in late November, Berry said.

Vice President Kamala Harris’ staff also likely will buy additional trees from Berry’s farm for decorating the residence, he said.

“We will also receive an invitation to visit the residence for photos with the trees and to meet the (vice president),” he said. 

“That is the plan — we don’t know how it will go with the (pandemic),” he said. “We’ve got our fingers crossed.”

He said he is sure the tree farm can spare him for a couple days in the middle of its peak sales season when he travels to D.C.

“I got plenty of good people to pick up the slack,” he said.

The awards were part of the NCTA’s 2021 National Christmas Tree and Wreath contest that was organized in conjunction with the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association summer meeting at Shatley Farms in Jefferson, North Carolina.

Berry, a fifth-generation Newton County farmer, said he had never entered a national competition because his trees likely would not retain a competitive appearance after a long trip.

He said he decided to enter this year’s competition because it was relatively close by in northwestern North Carolina.

Berry’s family has farmed the same site in the Almon community of Newton County near I-20 since 1894. 

The farm was a row crop and dairy farm until 1969. Berry’s father converted the operation to a Christmas tree farm in 1977 and the first trees were sold in 1983.  

It now sells more than 3,000 Christmas trees annually and offers a train ride, petting zoo and concession stand during its prime sales season.  

Berry also is a board member of the Newton County Farm Bureau, Georgia director for the National Christmas Tree Association, and a board member of the national Christmas Tree Promotion Board. 

Other NCTA award winners were Peak Farms in Jefferson, North Carolina, and Evergreen Acres Tree Farm in Auburn, Pennsylvania, who were named Grand Champion Growers whose trees will be placed in the White House.

Reserve Grand Champion Grower Cline Church Nursery Inc. in Fleetwood, North Carolina, will join Berry’s in placing a tree in the Vice President’s residence.

“The huge amount of publicity for farm-grown Christmas trees generated by this high-profile NCTA program is priceless to our industry,” the release stated.

Berry's Tree Farm
This Leyland cypress tree won an award that earned Berry's Tree Farm the right to place a tree in the Vice President's official residence in Washington, D.C., this holiday season. - photo by Special to The News