Christmas Tree Farms
Fraser fir trees are Central Appalachian’s Christmas gift to the entire nation. Grown at elevations higher than 3280 feet in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, these trees are prized for their conical shape, branch density and pleasing look. The trees bring in $70–$100 million in annual sales, defining it as a real cash crop.
North Carolina — particularly mountainous Western North Carolina — is the country’s second largest producer of Christmas trees, behind Oregon. The region’s 1500 farms grow about 35 million Fraser fir trees: more than 15 percent of the Christmas trees sold in the United States. (Despite that, Indiana, Pennsylvania, is known as the Christmas Tree Capital of the World.)
So Central Appalachian-grown Christmas trees figure prominently in the country’s traditions. But while shoppers outside the region have to content themselves with buying a Fraser fir shipped to their town, Appalachian residents have a better option. Instead of shopping at the neighborhood Christmas tree lot, more and more families are venturing out into the country to make selecting that perfect tree into an adventure. As a result, these “choose and cut” farms have come to offer more than just trees.
Sleigh Rides and Hayrides
Hayrides have grown in popularity for both kids and adults. Many Christmas tree farms offer hayrides through their forested landscapes. Some even have hot and cold beverages and food available. Almost all have gift shops, where you can buy Christmas accessories such as crafts and wreaths. Since all farms are outdoors, many invite you to bring your family dog, too!
For those farms at high elevations where snow is often present in late November through Christmastime, sleigh rides and sledding brings you back to the days of your youth — assuming you grew up somewhere with winter snow. Although dependent on the weather, a sleigh ride, even when pulled by a tractor instead of a plow horse, can be an added bonus when you go out looking for a tree.
Appalachian Christmas tree farms offer a variety of services, so check before you embark on your adventure. Some allow you to cut the tree yourself, while others prefer to let you relax while they do the cutting. Many offer to bale the tree and tie it to your car or truck. A few even have a tree-shaking machine to remove all the loose needles before you get home. In addition to hayrides, you can find ziplining, petting zoos, marshmallow roasts, and even Santa Claus.
Here are some Christmas tree farms to explore, in North Carolina and surrounding areas:
- Big Ridge Tree Farm (www.bigridgetreefarm.com) in Banner Elk, NC
- Circle C Tree Farm (www.circlectreefarms.com) in Boone, NC
- Cornett Deal Christmas Tree Farm (www.cdtreefarm.com) in Sugar Grove, NC
- Country Cove Christmas Tree Farm (www.countrycovetrees.com) in Murfreesboro, TN
- Elk River Evergreens (elkriverevergreens.com) in Elk Park, NC
- Fleming’s Christmas Tree Farms (www.flemingstrees.com) in Indiana, PA
- Greene Family Tree Farm (www.greenetreefarm.com) in Boone, NC
- Panoramic View Christmas Tree Farm (panoramictreefarm.com) in Boone, NC
- Reilly’s Garden Center at Summer Seat Farm (www.reillyssummerseatfarm.com) in Pittsburgh, PA
- Ridgefield Farm (www.ridgefieldfarm.com) in Harper’s Ferry, WV
- RRR Tree Farm (www.rrrtreefarm.com) in Todd, NC
- Sleepy Hollow Farm (www.sleepyhollowtrees.com) in Powder Springs, GA
- Springhill Farm (www.springhilltreefarm.com) in Bainbridge, GA
- Wildwood Christmas Tree Farm (www.wildwoodchristmastreefarm.com) in Woodbury, TN