Get the real spirit of Christmas growing in your house
THE humble Christmas tree is moving with the times by getting real.
Coramba-based farm North Coast Christmas Trees grows and sells pine Christmas trees exclusively, and to make it easy for households to bring a living pine specimen into their home this year, they are offering a delivery service as far away as Maclean and Grafton areas starting this weekend.
Owner Wayne Duver said things have been hotting up over past few weekends as people's thoughts are turning to all things festive.
"We've had lots of people coming out to the farm to choose and tag their trees in anticipation of peak pickup time."
He said having drop off points meant people were able to get the freshest tree possible.
"It makes a big difference on the life of the tree. We harvest them on the evening ahead of the delivery date so they are only cut for a few hours before people pick them up."
He said caring for a living tree was basically the same tending to cut flowers.
"Take a couple of millimetres off the bottom of the stump and put it into a bucket of water. Then keep the water up. The tree will keep sucking it up for the next two weeks before it starts to slow down. Then you should get another week and half before it stops completely."
"I recommend checking it every morning and topping it up."
He said the best way to secure the trees was to use bricks in the bucket or larger river stones. "I don't like sand."
If that's too much work the farm also supply good quality tree stands made in the US. "They are the only ones I'll stock because they'll hold any sized trees. They come in two sizes and also hold the water."
He said living Christmas trees were becoming more popular each year.
"There have also been real trees floating around in Australia but not the farmed variety. People would go out the bush and find an old pine tree and cut it down and use that."
Mr Duver said the seed behind the farm came from his wife Christine.
"She's English and when we came back here (they worked in England for 20 years) she couldn't find a decent living Christmas tree. She bought this spindly weedy looking thing from the garden centre and it cost $75-80 back then in the early 2000s. I said I can do a better job than that."
The Duvers established the farm in 2006 and 13 years later they now have 13000 trees on 125acres.
"We used to grow strawberries and raspberries and run a few cattle before the trees took over. We kept the cattle for a bit longer but Christmas trees and cows don't mix. They use them as scratching posts."
Mr Duver said they prune the trees up to four times a year and spend a lot of time on the tractor mowing. "We put lot into our trees, special fertilizers, we do sap analysis to know what the tree wants feed them specifically what they need. My daughter Kimberley is an agronomist and gives me a hand with that."
He said there was a bit of waiting involved before they were able to start supplying the trees.
"It takes up to four years to get a saleable tree, about 1.5m, but they are reasonable fast-growing at 12 inches a year."
Mr Duver said he got very nervous with the recent fires around. "They were about 8kms away from us so it was bit nerve wracking waiting to see which way the wind was going to blow."
He said there were lots of reasons people were turning to real Christmas trees.
"The big advantage of having a real tree is there is no plastic, which can take up to 100 years to breakdown. You are also supporting local industry not an off-shore company."
He said they were also easy to dispose of. "Just chop it up and put it in your green bin".
And then there's the lovely scent of fresh pine. "If you have your house locked up during the day you come home in the evening you get that nice smell."
Mr Duver said buying real Christmas trees had started to become a family tradition for some people. "Mum dad and the kids have fun walking around the paddock to choose one. Some people take five minutes others like to up to 45 minutes walking around.
"Every tree is slightly different. Some people like tall slender tree some people like a shorter fatter tree. It depends where they want to put it but most people opt for close to ceiling height."
You can order your tree online at North Coast Christmas Trees or choose instore at 420 East Bank Road, Coramba. The farm is open Monday to Friday evenings 4 pm-6 pm and Saturday and Sunday 10 am-5 pm. For more info phone: 0427 660 282.
Clarence Valley drop-off locations/dates
Saturdays, December 7, 14, 21: Maclean 10:30 - 11am carpark opposite the BP service station on River Street and Grafton 12-12:30pm William Wedge Bus Interchange, Ryan Street, South Grafton.