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Have a Berry merry Christmas
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WHO: Chuck Berry, owner of Berry’s Christmas Tree Farm; fifth generation of family to work the land
WHAT THEY OFFER: Christmas trees, cut your own or buy a fresh tree; handmade wreaths and garland, visit with Santa 2-5 p.m. today and Dec. 5; miniature vintage train ride and snack bar


Cut-your-own Leyland cypress, Virginia pine, cedar or Carolina Sapphire; fresh-cut Fraser firs available; $5-$10 per foot; wreaths start at $15, garland costs 80 cents per foot; $2 off with copy of this article; credit cards accepted


10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Christmas Eve


70 Mount Tabor Road; from Interstate 20, take Exit 88 Almon Road and follow the signs

Chuck Berry has some deep roots in agriculture.

He represents the fifth generation of his family to work the land.

His grandfather and father raised crops and dairy cattle until the late 1960s, but now Berry operates Berry's Tree Farm and Nursery, 70 Mt. Tabor Road, Covington.

Last year, the Berry's sold about 2,000 trees for the holidays.

"At Berry's you are getting a tree that is freshly cut and will last longer, just add some water daily," he said. "A fresh-cut tree adds beauty to your home and a delightful aroma."

The tree farm is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Christmas Eve.

You can either cut your own tree or buy a fresh-cut Fraser fir tree. Trees available for cutting are groomed Leyland cypress, Virginia pine, cedar and Carolina Sapphire. Fresh, handmade wreaths and garland are also available.

Santa will be on hand in an authentic sleigh from 2-5 p.m. today and on Dec. 5. You can have your child's picture made by a photographer there. The tree farm also offers young visitors a ride on a miniature vintage train that was restored by the family. A snack bar is also available.

Trees will be placed in a protective cover and packed into your vehicle by farm workers. You can have your tree snow flocked at an additional charge and can buy a tree stand and decorations.

Berry enjoys his weeks each year bringing some holiday magic to a lot of homes in this area. The rest of the year he is employed by local Clairon Metals.

He was elected president of the Georgia Christmas Tree Association which is an organization of around 100 growers from around the state. He's also a board member of the Newton County Farm Bureau.

His grandfather and father were on the farm until expenses proved too much for them.

The family investigated other ways to supplement their income and decided in 1977 to raise Christmas trees.

Trees take about five or six years to mature, and the family sold its first trees in 1983, Berry said. That first year, they sold 120 trees, and steadily increased sales each year since.

Berry began working on the tree farm when he was 6. As a teen, he got his friends to help out, too. He learned a lot about hiring people, selling and running a business early on.

Twice a year, he hires contract tree trimmers from Michigan. The trimmers are able to prune and groom 4,000 trees in two days.

"It may cost a little more, but you don't get a nice looking Christmas tree without finesse and the knowledge of how to groom them, so we hire professionals," Berry said. "If we had to do it, we would hardly finish before it was time to do it again."

His 11-year-old son, Charles "Chase" Hamilton Berry V, is already working in the family business.

"He probably knows more than I did about the tree farm at his age and it is a fun experience for he and I together."