The Extra Touches

Posted Dec. 07, 2008, at 9:22 p.m.

Sleigh rides. Cocoa, coffee, cider and sweets. Gifts. Christmas trees.

Sounds a lot like the good cheer of the holidays.

And that’s just what Maine’s tree farms are providing as their innovations and activities lure customers in for a lot more than simply selecting and cutting a live Christmas tree. Added attractions such as free cocoa and cookies, sleigh rides and gift shops are just plain fun and are paying off.

At Nutkin Knoll Farm in Newburgh, visitors can enjoy not only the outdoor setting but also the farm animals and stroll through the wreath shop in the barn.

Over at Piper Mountain Christmas Trees, also in Newburgh, weekend visitors can take a horse-drawn hayride and enjoy free doughnuts and warm cider.

Christmas crafts are for sale at Dalou Farms in St. Albans and visitors to Carpenter’s Tree Farm in Old Town can warm up and enjoy cider with cinnamon graham crackers.

At Richards’ Christmas Tree Farm in Mapleton, sleigh and wagon rides have been standard fare since 1992, Gaye Richards said.

“It’s always been a big draw,” she said. “We have people come all the way over from Calais for a sleigh ride and a tree. Offering the extras, like our wreath shop and gift shop, helps bring customers in. There is no doubt about that.”

“We create a total experience,” Jim Corliss at Piper Mountain said. “Christmas trees are incidental here.”

His farm’s motto is “Where Christmas memories begin,” and as he tries to create a complete holiday experience, Corliss said he gets a competitive advantage.

It appears to be working.

“The Sunday after Thanksgiving was as big a day as we get,” Corliss said. “Sixty-four dozen free doughnuts were gone by 3:24 p.m.”

Tree farms this weekend said it appears that most Mainers aren’t letting the economy get in the way of buying a real tree.

“If Saturday was any indication of the rest of the season, it is going to be wonderful,” Melba Fisher of Fisher Christmas Tree Farm in Belfast said. “There were lots of people, lots of children. We are really pleased.”

Fisher Farm offers a gift shop and hot cocoa, something Fisher said her customers really appreciate.

David Barden at Dalou Farms in St. Albans said, “You first have to have a good product, but it really helps to offer the extras.” Barden also has a gift shop and free food and drink.

He also said Saturday was a big sales day. “Our wreaths are down but our tree sales are up a bit,” he said.

Holiday shoppers who may be thinking of grabbing a tree from a big-box store parking lot should give Maine’s tree farms a second look, JoAnne Bond of the Maine Christmas Tree Association said.

Christmas trees are an agricultural crop just like any other in Maine, such as corn, blueberries, potatoes or broccoli, and therefore is an integral part of Maine’s economy.

Along with enhancing the beauty of the state, tree farms create a lush habitat for wildlife and are renewable. The National Christmas Tree Association estimates that farmers plant up to three seedlings for every tree harvested.

“Tree farms are very good at providing habitat for wildlife,” Rick Dungey of the NCTA said. “Factories where they make fake trees? Not so much.”

···

How Christmas tree farming affects the environment

— In the past, most Christmas trees came from the forest. Today more than 98 percent are plantation grown.

— Christmas tree farms add oxygen to the atmosphere, provide wildlife habitat, increase soil stability and are very attractive. Christmas trees are frequently planted on barren slopes or other cleared areas where no other crops will grow.

— Christmas trees take four to 10 years to mature. During that time, the farmer faces many challenges. Trees can suffer from too little or too much sun or rain, destruction by rodents, insects, disease, hail or fire, and overgrowth from bushes, vines and weeds, or theft from the field.

— Christmas trees are shaped by expert farmers through annual pruning. By pruning upward-growing branches, the grower can encourage the tree to branch more quickly and gradually achieve the full bushy appearance consumers look for in a Christmas tree.

Source: Maine Christmas Tree Association

···

Here is a list of cut-your-own Christmas tree farms in the BDN readership area:

Carpenter’s Tree Farm, Old Town, 827-8383.

Christmas Tree Bazaar, Nobleboro, 563-5700.

Christmas Tree Ranch, Amherst, 584-5235.

Bond Mountain Acres, West Newfield, 793-4658 and 432-4464.

Carpenter’s Tree Farm, Old Town, 827-8383.

Dalou Farms, St. Albans, 938-2955.

Davis Stream Tree Farm, Washington, 845-2544.

Finestkind Tree Farms, Dover-Foxcroft, 564-3103.

Fishers Christmas Tree Farm, Belfast, 338-6098.

G&S Tree Farms, Bangor, 942-1394.

Gooleys Conifers Unlimited Christmas Tree Farm, Farmington, 778-2368.

Grants Tree Farm, Franklin, 565-2791.

H&R Christmas Tree Farm, Dexter, 924-6402.

Hale Tree Farms, Westmanland, 896-5213.

Hall’s Christmas Tree Farm, Sangerville, 564-3603.

Heaven’s View Christmas Tree Farm, Brooks, 548-2221.

Kings Mountain Christmas Trees, Orrington, 825-2130.

McClure’s Tree Nursery, Kingfield, 265-4931.

Nutkin Knoll Farm, Newburgh, 234-7268.

Penobscot Evergreens, Bucksport, 825-8729.

Peterson’s Farm, Sebec, 564-7579.

Pinkham’s Corner Tree Farm, Vassalboro, 445-4827.

Piper Mountain Christmas Trees, Newburgh, 234-4300.

Pleasant View Tree Farm, Hodgdon, 532-4769.

Richards Christmas Tree Farm, Mapleton, 764-6093.

Rideout’s Tree Farm, Albion, 437-8733.

Stadig’s Christmas Tree, Wallagrass, 800-338-1587.

Will-O-Way Farm, Garland, 924-3525.

Wonderland Christmas Trees, Corinth, 884-7688.

Source: Maine Christmas Tree Association

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business

Similar Articles

More in State