Sharpen your ax for choose-and-cut Christmas trees

Boy measures tree at Circle C Tree Farms in Boone

When I visited nearly every choose-and-cut tree farm in the NC mountains two years ago, I headed out on the first Saturday in December. Much to my delight, every other car had a Christmas tree strapped to its roof. That sight never ceases to bring a smile to my face.

Fraser firs grow only in higher elevations, so outside of the mountains you’ll find mostly cedars and pines. (As I confessed early, I fancy the Eastern red cedar.)

Ashe County (Jefferson, West Jefferson) contains the most tree farms, but the largest number of choose-and-cut operations are in Watauga County (Boone). Alleghany County (Sparta) is close behind. The Charlotte area has a few C&C trees farms, as do the Triangle and the Coast.

Ashe County is the state's top tree producer

I’m listing a few farms here, but my book, out in March, contains many more. Great online information, including choose-and-cut directories, can be found at the websites of these groups: NC Christmas Tree Association, Eastern NC Christmas Tree Growers’ Association, Watauga County Christmas Tree Association, Alleghany Christmas Tree Association, Ashe County Christmas Tree Association.

Here’s my list:

It’s hard to beat the view from Joe Edwards Christmas Tree Farm in Sparta — the Blue Ridge Parkway. The 50-acre farm also features a gift  shop filled with Joe’s artwork.

Mrs. Claus (aka co-owner Helen Pitts) prepares for a day of work at Sugar Plum Farms

If you have children, Sugar Plum Farms in Avery County (between Boone and Burnsville) is about as festive and kid-friendly as you can get. Kids can greet Santa, see ducks float (or skate) on the pond, take a hayride through the trees, and roast marshmallows.

Another great place for a view is Wayland’s Nursery outside of West Jefferson. The drive up the twisting mountain road to the top is equally memorable. In the summer, they offer U-pick blueberries. Co-owner Lynn Cox has a gift shop of her Christmas- and blueberry-themed art.

Chuck Lieberman`s swinging bridge is an engineering feat

Swinging Bridge Farm outside of Boone is small and often runs out of trees early. But even without trees, it’s worth a visit to see the swinging bridge made by owner Chuck Lieberman, the county’s self-proclaimed “only Jewish Christmas tree farmer.” Ask Chuck to show you his orangery, filled with citrus trees.

What Fir! is one of the Boone area’s highest farms, at 4,000 feet, which means it also has a great view, a crazy drive up, and lots of Fraser firs. Owners Nathaniel and Kirby Maram in 2005 won a statewide award for their sustainable farming practices. Not only do they have a lovely 40-acre pond-filled spread, they bring in miniature donkeys and alpacas on the weekend, much to Rudolph’s bemusement.

Near Charlotte, Helms Christmas Tree Farm grows red cedar, white pine, Leyland cypress, and spruce. Unlike most choose-and-cut farms, Helms will sell trees “bagged and balled” so they can be replanted. Customers tour the fields on a covered wagon. In the summer, there’s U-pick blueberries, which show up in jam jars this time of year.

Co-owner Diana May bales and nets a Fraser fir for a customer at Jordan Lake Christmas Tree Farm

In the Triangle, Jordan Lake Christmas Tree Farm grows 12 acres of native species, but most customers “go right for the Frasers,” which are shipped in from the mountains, says co-owner Diana May. She and her helpers make wreaths, operate a gift shop, and offer hayrides.

On the coast, check out Moore Christmas Tree Farm on the outskirts of New Bern, which grows pines, cedar, Leyland cypress and Carolina sapphire. And, yes, it sells Frasers from the mountains. Owner Ricky Jones and family make wreaths and garland, too, “but the big thing we’re selling is the adventure.”

These are just a small sampling of what’s out there. Feel free to ask me about any specific farms, and I’d love to hear about your favorite choose-and-cut Christmas tree traditions!

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5 Responses to Sharpen your ax for choose-and-cut Christmas trees

  1. didaniel says:

    Because I have an abundance of Triangle readers, here are the other two Triangle choose-and-cuts from the book: Back Achers Christmas Tree Farm on the southern edge of Raleigh, at http://www.back-achers.com. I love their name = physical back aching and farm’s back acres. Get it? Also, Pop-n-Son in Garner, at http://www.popnson.com. Look for the giant blow-up snowman on Benson Road/Highway 50.

  2. didaniel says:

    From Tim Stowe, of Stowe Diary Farms in Gastonia, near Charlotte, http://www.stowedairyfarms.com/. (They’re in my book.)

    We opened our first field of Choose and Cut Christmas trees on Thanksgiving day, our third year as a Christmas tree farm. The first ever Choose and Cut tree harvested in Gaston County fell on Friday! Of course we took pictures of the family and received their permission for publication. According to Coop. Ext. Mark Blevins, we are the only Christmas Tree farm in Gaston County and the only one to ever bring trees to marketable size. The Gaston Gazette’s Amanda Memrick wrote an excellent article under the title “Homegrown” on Saturday, Nov.27 which contained our important information. As you will see, our farm is about keeping traditions, therefore our mission is one of heritage and is reflected in the activities,shop items, farm treats we provide for families and their children. Many of these are in tribute or memory to our Stowe family members. Thanks for your encouraging words!

    Gwen and Tim Stowe
    Stowe Dairy Farms
    Gastonia, NC

  3. Ashley says:

    We love Reeves Ridge Choose and Cut Christmas Tree Farm near Sparta in Alleghany County.
    The hay rides are great and the friendly folks that help can’t be beat. Reeves Ridge Choose and Cut is our new family tradition! Good job Reeves Ridge – See you in December 2011

  4. Bryce says:

    PINETOP FARM
    Christmas Trees and Blueberries
    http://www.pinetopberryfarm.com
    830 Majolica Road
    Salisbury, NC 28147
    (704) 637-7208

    Bring your family to the farm. Pinetop Farm Christmas Trees choose and cut offers a special Christmas Holiday experience. We provide a saw and hayrides to and from the field for you to pick your special tree. We also offer Fraser Fir pre-cut trees.

    We are a grower and retailer of choose and cut Christmas trees and fresh cut Christmas trees, wreaths and blueberries in Salisbury, NC. We have been in business since the early 1970s primarily focusing on retail sales. Free to contact us if you have any questions.

    Conveniently located near Lexington NC, Thomasville NC, Kannapolis NC, Concord NC, Mooresville NC, Huntersville NC, Statesville NC and Charlotte NC.

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