by Cabell Smith Melson
I have long been familiar with the concept of Christmas tree farms as my uncle owns and operates one in Halifax, North Carolina. Additionally, another aunt and uncle have always cut down their own huge cedar tree for the holidays as part of a family tradition. The idea seemed so festive, so after my first daughter was born, I was determined to make it one of my own family's traditions. Indeed, shortly after her first birthday, we bundled her up, and my husband and I took her to a farm in Caroline County. It was a riot watching her toddle through the field of pines and cedars on her unstable walking legs, and we let her select the tree . . . What else would a one-year-old pick but one her own size?
The results of our Christmas tree adventures were just as memorable the next couple of years. We have fabulous photos of her riding on Daddy's shoulders and then pretending to saw down the tree. I still chuckle thinking of the year that my husband's choice of the perfect tree for us was about 3 feet too tall to fit in our family room. What an ideal way to get geared up for the holiday season: hiking through breathtaking fields of green (or white) on a crisp, early winter day, with family or friends. And this outing appeals to young and old! Even a surly 13-year-old usually gets caught up in the moment. The little ones are in awe of the immense fields and the seemingly never-ending rows of trees.
Despite the appeal, with the births of our twins came necessity for the simple and artificial. Yet I think I am ready for the memories again! The kids are particularly excited about Christmas this year: they love spending time together outside, this outing will definitely get them in the spirit, and they can blow off some extra energy. I already have our "tree day" marked on the calendar and am now considering my varied options.
In Spotsylvania County:
BELMONT CHRISTMAS TREE FARM, Preston and Rhonda Brown; 7533 Belmont Road, Spotsylvania, VA 22553; 540.854.6637 (Preston and Rhonda Brown); 540.854.4866 (Sylvia Fletcher, sales manager); Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., daily after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve; Products: Choose-and-cut white and Scotch pine, blue spruce, Norway spruce and Leyland cypress; fresh-cut Fraser fir; Services: Bow saws and twine provided; tree wrapping available.
SNEAD'S ASPARAGUS FARM, Emmett C. Snead, III; 18294 Tidewater Trail, Fredericksburg, VA 22408; 540.371.9328; Hours: Sunup till sundown, daily, November 26-December 24; Products: Choose-and-cut or dig your own blue spruce, white pine, and aromatic cedar, all up to 8 ft; Services: Cut or dig your own. We furnish saws, shovels, burlap and twine.
In Caroline County:
In Orange County:
BRAMBLEWOOD TREE FARM, Mark and Patty Decot; 17157 Oak Shade Road, Orange, VA 22960; 703.426.9191; Hours: 9 a.m.-dark, weekends only, Thanksgiving to Christmas; Products: Choose-and-cut Norway spruce, Scotch pine, white pine, Virginia pine, cedar (5-10 ft.) Services: Saws and twine provided. Beautiful remote forest setting; Prices: $20 per tree and up.
MILLER FARMS MARKET, Wayne, Jo Ann, Ben and Kristine;12101 Orange Plank Road, Locust Grove, VA 22508; 540.972.2680; Hours: Opening the day after Thanksgiving, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Closed Sundays.
Products: Regularly offering milk from Trickling Springs Creamery, Roseda Beef, Papa Weaver Sausage, free-range eggs; poinsettias, hand-picked and custom-filled Christmas gift baskets, and holiday decorations. Fresh wreaths and roping are made daily from greenery on the farm. Special orders available Fresh-cut Fraser firs, 5-12 ft. and white pines, 6-7 ft. Live trees in the 4-6 ft. range, balled and burlapped trees: Colorado blue spruce, Concolor fir, Fraser fir, and Norway spruce Produce: butternut squash, acorn squash, fresh lettuce, Mesclun mix, and broccoli for your holiday feast; Services: A fresh cut on the base of trees (upon request), limbing, loading assistance, and Southern hospitality, all free of charge; Prices: Please call for prices.
In Culpeper County:
In Hanover County:
In Fauquier County:
Remember that Christmas tree farms are like pumpkin patches: not any two are identical or offer the exact same products or experience. Also, call ahead or go online to get specific directions or confirm hours and availability of specific products. But regardless of whether you are looking for a small, intimate setting or a larger operation, you will be spending a fun day with nature making memories and perhaps starting a new annual tradition with your kids Granted, this is not the way to go if you prefer pre-lit and artificial, but if you are looking for festive and natural, put the outing on your calendar, bundle up, and make a day of it!
Cabell Smith Melson is the mother of four in Stafford and educator by profession.