“We’ve always tried to make it a family tradition and something different from buying a Christmas tree on the sidewalk somewhere or from a big box store.” That’s business according to Chuck Berry, whose family has nurtured its Christmas tree sales business on Mount Tabor Road over the last 30 years into a family event.
Berry, 39, carried on this family business and added his own touches, including a train ride, hayrides, food and visits by Santa Claus, that are intended to bring families out for an afternoon.
Berry’s Tree Farm, with roughly 10,000 total trees over 40 acres, will have about 3,500 trees ready for harvesting when it opens on Nov. 20, Berry said. After some general clean up and maintenance, it will be ready for the public. He employs several high school- and college-age people to help load and bag the trees.
Drought conditions over the last few months have not affected his current crop of tress. “We lost a few that we planted this year, but the trees that are ready to sell are as green and full as ever,” he said. Older trees go into a dormant state during dry spells.
According to the National Weather Service, Newton County got about 1.5 inches of rain in the last 30 days, roughly normal for that time period. That followed a dry late summer that led to drought conditions around the state. In the last 90 days, the county got between four and six inches less rain that normal.
Trees typically require about six years to grow between planting and selling, Berry said. The farm mainly grows cypress, cedar and Virginia pines. However, they do bring in a few Fraser firs from Franklin, N.C.
Berry said his family has owned that property since the late-1800s and for years used the land as a dairy farm. In 1977, they sold the cows and decided to plant trees, the first of which were ready for sale in 1983.
The farm donates trees to Trees for Troops, which sends Christmas trees to deployed military personnel spouses, who may not be able to get a tree for their home on base, and to Dobbins Air Force Base, Berry said.
“We’ve actually gotten letters and pictures back to show how much the tree meant to them and what it looked like when they got it decorated,” Berry said.