Each year farmers and workers prep their crop so that families can continue their tradition of choosing and cutting their perfect Christmas tree.
Each year farmers and workers prep their crop so that families can continue their tradition of choosing and cutting their perfect Christmas tree. That includes at least eight working farms in the Lexington County area.
Local residents can get trees grown in local soil at Cedar Ridge Tree Farm (cedarridgetreefarm.com) and Hollow Creek Tree Farm (hollowcreektreefarm.com) in Gilbert, Matthew’s Christmas Tree Farm (facebook.com/matthewschristmastreefarm) in Batesburg-Leesville, and Price’s Christmas Tree Farm (facebook.com/priceschristmastreefarm), Drafts Tree Farm (facebook.com/draftstreefarm) and Browns Christmas Tree Farm (803-622-0686) in Lexington, and Bear Creek Christmas Tree Farm in Chapin (facebook.com/bearcreekchristmastreefarm).
The Chronicle spoke to three local tree farms that have each been growing trees for more than 30 years to learn about their operations.
Bear Creek Christmas Tree Farm
Bear Creek has been bringing the families of Lexington County trees since 1981.
At the farm – owned and operated by three sisters, Charli and Gina Wessinger and Liesha Huffstetler (a columnist for the Chronicle) – guests can choose from Leyland Cypress, Virginia pines, Carolina Sapphire, White pines and Red Cedar trees grown on the property along with Fraser Firs from North Carolina. The trees grown on the farm are cut down by hand by the customer before taking them home.
“It's seeing the kids seeing the excitement of the families doing a Christmas tradition together.” Huffstetler said of why she likes owning a Christmas tree farm.
All of the trees on the farm must be fertilized, pruned and shaped to achieve the classical Christmas tree shape, she said.
On the farm, there is also a reindeer figure with which guests can take pictures, and there are also a selection of handmade wreaths, prepared and made by the sisters, and poinsettias available for purchase.
Huffstetler said her father cut and cleared nine acres of land and planted trees when she was a child so that their family could continue choosing and cutting their own tree, starting the farm because they were no longer able to find suitable trees in the woods surrounding them.
“You're helping the local farmer,” Huffstetler said of their customers. “You're helping support the local tree farmers.”
Price’s Tree Farm
Price’s has been growing and selling trees in Lexington County for 38 years.
The choose-and-cut style farm contains Fraser, Murray Cypress, Leyland Cypress, and Red Cedar of all different sizes. According to owner Bryan Price, the farm can often sell several hundred trees in a weekend.
Throughout the tree-selling season, the farm invites Santa Claus to come and take pictures with visitors. There is also homemade honey for sale, with bees located on the property, along with tree decor, wreaths made from trimmings and other knick-knacks.
Price told the Chronicle that his farm has seen multiple generations of families, with some getting their trees there for more than 30 years.
“It's a lot of work.” Price said “You got to love growing things.”
According to Price, the farm is located on the land of an old Native American Village and the surrounding land was a burial site. The fire pit on the farm includes rocks from a discovered Native American fire pit along with two pear trees marking a grave that the owners discovered.
Price inherited his farm from his father. The family would grow their own Christmas trees. As they grew more, they decided to try to sell them, growing from there into the farm as it is today.
Drafts Tree Farm
“I used to go buy Christmas trees and I said, ‘Well I got a little bit of land,” David Drafts said of how came to just start doing it with his own farm.
Drafts has owned his business for over 30 years and has covered his farm with Murray Cypress and Carolina Sapphire trees.
Drafts’ trees take about five years to reach maturity, and they don’t produce any pollen. He said when he gets a tree, it is put into a pot for a year before it is put into the ground to continue its growth.
Drafts gives guests the ability to choose and cut their own trees. If guests aren't ready to cut their trees right away they can tag them and come back later.
Throughout his years of business, Drafts has expanded his farm due to the growing demand for natural Christmas trees.
“I enjoy meeting the customer for Christmas,” the otherwise retired man said. “It's always something nice to do”
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