By Samantha Flavell, OCT Intern
Cutting down a Christmas tree to decorate is a holiday tradition for many who celebrate Christmas. While buying artificial trees is an option, many still prefer cutting down a farm fresh tree.
“It is simply the smell of the tree that really brings the holiday cheer in. Something you don’t get from an artificial tree,” Wyatt DeMarree, 20, said. “My family has gone to get a real tree every year.”
Beckwith Family Christmas Trees farm, located at 189 Mill St. in Hannibal, helps families carry on the holiday tradition.
The Beckwith family sells Christmas trees as well as wreaths and offers a number of services for customers including drilling the tree trunk and wrapping the tree to keep it safe during travel.
“We started planting in 1985 and started selling in 1995,” said Faye Beckwith who owns the farm along with her husband. “We really are a first-time generation Christmas tree farm.”
For the Beckwiths, sustaining the farm has not been difficult.
When the couple originally moved onto its current property that serves as both their home and business, it was a dairy farm.
They began with a few beef cows and then moved onto Christmas trees, where they plant two or three times every spring depending on how many times they harvest throughout the season.
For the Beckwiths, the Christmas tree selling season begins the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Weekends are the primary focus for the couple due to the difficulty finding enough people to staff the farm during the week; weekends are in general more popular for customers to visit.
The state assists hundreds of farms across New York to connect them to new markets and promotional opportunities.
Part of this assistance is encouraging community members to buy local trees to support the businesses.
Last month, Richard Ball, State Agriculture Commissioner, encouraged New Yorkers to support local tree growers during the holiday season.
Currently, New York State is ranked fourth in the U.S. in the number of farms selling Christmas trees, with more than 300,000 New York-grown trees sold by 875 farms in upstate New York.
Not only does the sale of locally grown Christmas trees promote the local economy, but Christmas tree farms also help the environment.
“Christmas tree farming is a year-round job; and our growers truly appreciate the recognition that this time of year brings to their efforts throughout the season to plant, maintain and trim these beautiful trees,” said Mary Jeanne, the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York’s Executive Director. “Christmas tree farms provide many environmental benefits including adding oxygen to the air, improving soil and water quality and providing habitat for wildlife.”
People may have many different reasons why Christmas tree farms are so important.
But, for Faye Beckwith, it is quite simple.
“The best part of the job is the people,” Beckwith said. “It’s the joy that it brings to them to come out, walk the land, enjoy the fresh air and enjoy a farm fresh tree. It’s the tradition.”