Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Finding A Christmas Tree in the Southern Adirondacks

Christmastree_newI grew up getting a tree from a parking lot and yearned for a storybook experience of searching the woods for the ideal tree. Though getting any Christmas tree was exciting, I wanted to give my children a different family ritual.  I also wanted to stick to the legal version of obtaining a Christmas tree. A few of my friends may disagree (and shall remain nameless), but I believe that searching for a tree should not involve stealth, cloak of darkness and a get-away car.

How we obtain our Christmas tree varies year to year, but so far we have either been gifted a tree from a neighbor’s property or we’ve visited one a local Adirondack Christmas tree farm.

There are no-frills Christmas tree farms like Lake Luzerne’s River Bend, Warrensburg’s Brown Tree Farm and Johnstown’s Goderie’s Tree Farm or ones with numerous activities like Ellm’s Family Farm down in Ballston Spa. It all depends on your preference. My children are always too anxious to get home and start decorating, while other families enjoy a slower process filled with rides and hot beverages.

I thought it would be an easy occupation, the Christmas tree business, but according to Mark Brown of Brown’s Tree Farm in Warrensburg it’s a labor of love. Brown took over the business started in 1951 by his father Art Brown. This is the second Christmas season since his father’s passing, but Mark finds joy providing others the pleasure of searching for the perfect tree.

Brown used to help his father tend to the trees year around and wants to continue his father’s tradition by keeping the farm small. He comments how before he retired from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) he would be out walking trails and find remnants of illegally downed trees on State property. As appealing as it may be, he wants to remind people that it takes a long time for nature to replace a tree.

Brown says, “We buy two-year old seedlings and after planting it can take six to eight years to grow a Christmas tree. Combine that with weather conditions, deer problems, mowing and pruning and it’s a time-consuming hobby.”

My children notice the difference between the uncultivated trees we’ve wrestled from our neighbors lumber lots and the ones grown on Christmas tree farms. The latter’s shape is flawless while the former is usually a larger version of a Charlie Brown tree. Either way it’s the adventure of being out in the woods we remember.

I hope you find your perfect tree; legally, of course.

Children cutting tree through the Christmas tree lot used with the permission of Diane Chase, AdirondackFamilytime.com


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Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

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