Small Christmas tree farms a thing of the past?

By Melissa Correa - bio | email

LOUISA, VA (WWBT) -  You can find them at a lot or outside a grocery store, but it's getting harder to locate a tree at a small Christmas tree farm.

With each season comes change. The Leatherwood Tree Farm in Louisa County is no exception.

"It takes about six years. We let them grow about a foot a year," said tree farmer Garth Nelson.

Nelson is pruning his white pines. The Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association says it's one of the most popular trees.

"I'm almost 80. This is it. When these are gone, I'm out of the business," he said.

And he's worried gone too, will be small tree farms like this one.

"There's a lot of trees being grown. But they're going more to the big farms," he said.

Big farms are also facing challenges. There's a high volume of trees nationwide and not as much demand. As for small tree farms, they're quickly fading.  Garth says people don't want to invest in trees they have to nurture for years before they're sold.

"It's a lot of hard work and there's no two-ways about that," Garth said.

At a local lot Phil Pollard and his girls are busy deciding.

"We'd always rather have a real tree than a fake tree," Pollard said.

Yet he's never considered choosing and chopping a tree at a farm.

"And it's right here. We just left school 10 minutes ago, we came and got our tree and now we're on our way home," he said.

As for Garth, even though he's stumped about the future.

"This is Christmas to a lot of people. Go out and cut your own tree," he said. He's holding out for a brighter tomorrow for the trees he's loved from the ground up.  "I enjoy doing it."

Leatherwood Tree Farm
3760 Factory Mill Road
Dabneys, VA
Garth Nelson: 513-0603
Open Saturdays and Sundays until December 23

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