Earlier this week my husband and I drove to the north western edge of the county to cut our own Christmas tree at Sandy Hollar Farms in Leicester. It was a lovely drive to an area we had not visited before. When we called for directions, they told us the mountain tops had gotten snow. The farm is situated at the end of a large valley up against Sandy Mush Bald.
Crossing the creek we could see the expanse of the farm. Along with growing Christmas trees and nursery stock, they also raise Texas longhorn cattle, sheep, goats and llamas.
Growing Christmas trees is one of the main industries in the mountains of North Carolina. The main tree is Fraser Fir - a very dense fragrant tree with soft needles. (To learn more about the Fraser tree go here.) The farms begin to harvest the trees in late October, shipping them all over the country for the holidays. Many farms have tree lots in the large cities where a family member mans the stand and lives out of a RV for weeks at a time. By mid December, the season is over for them. They come home to rest and enjoy the holiday. Once cut, these trees can last months in a tree stand or as a wreath. Fraser Firs only grow above 3000 feet in elevation. From the road there was a long driveway in to the trees.
Being a weekday, there was only one other car there. It was also very cold and windy so I tried to make it quick. I like my trees very full with a nice shape and found one very easily. Fraser Firs are very pretty, lush trees and it is hard to find a misshaped one!
I staked out my tree and Don went to get the tree cutter. Some of you may not like to cut real trees but I feel that that like any farm crop, these trees are grown to become Christmas trees, wreaths and garland. If we don't buy it someone will and at least this one will get used and not cut and tossed because it was not sold. After the holidays, I put my tree outside and decorate it with food for the wild birds.
The gift shop also carries centerpieces, wreaths, garland and lots of wool products - hats, shawls, scarves and rugs. Hand made ornaments and holiday themed gifts filled the tiny shop, warmed by the wood stove in the back.
On weekends they offer hay rides and will give tours of the farm by appointment. Hope you enjoyed our day. We are very grateful for these farms that provide employment for our mountain residents and offer a wonderful holiday experience for all.