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Dec. 13, 2018
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Christmas tree farms offer family holiday experience

 
By Jane Harrison
 
Acres of fragrant evergreens and barns full of Carolina gems await families seeking their holiday centerpiece. North Georgia Christmas tree farms offer the natural beauty of the season and warmth of the farm families that open their fields for visitors to cut a tree, sip hot cider, get a handmade gift and forge long-lasting traditions.
 
Here’s a sample of choose and cut Christmas tree farms open this holiday season:
 
Kinsey Family Farm, Gainesville. 7170 Jot Em Down Road. (770) 887-6028. www.kinseyfamilyfarm.com. Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-7 p.m.; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat.-Sun. through Dec. 20. A picturesque setting frames this North Forsyth County farm the Kinseys started in 2002. “Our main drive is to create an atmosphere where families can come out and be together without electronics, without advertising and enjoy the outdoors and each other,” said Andy Kinsey. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, hundreds of families strolled amidst fields of blue-green Carolina Sapphires and emerald Leyland Cypresses seeking the perfect tree. Tree hunters rode tractor-drawn carts around the pond to get a broader perspective of boughs on display. They toasted marshmallows around the firepit and moseyed into the barn for hot chocolate and holiday tunes. Children squealed while feeding llamas and goats. Farm helpers wearing “Muscle Crew” shirts sawed trees and wrapped and loaded them for their trip home. Kinsey said the homegrown Carolina Sapphires and Leyland Cypress trees share the spotlight about equally, but the pre-cut Frazier fir, shipped in from the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia, remain a traditional first choice. “It’s a national favorite,” he said. The farm’s Harvest Shop stocks all the trimmings – wreaths, garlands, ornaments and locally made jams and jellies.
Holly Hill Tree Farm, Dahlonega. 276 Woodland Lane. (706) 864-8222. 3 p.m. until dark Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m. until dark Sat.-Sun. For years a 12-foot beauty from the Cantrell family farm has sparkled for the holidays at the Dahlonega Gold Museum. And for generations, evergreens from the Lumpkin County farm have starred in living rooms across the region. “People have been coming here for years. I’ve seen their kids grow up and they’ve seen our trees grow up,” said Ruth Cantrell. “Everyone wants the great big ones.” Ten to 14-feet tall Leyland Cypress and Carolina sapphires stand in the fields, while a fresh harvest of Frazier firs await their adornment. But the wait is short. Cantrell reported record sales early in the season that might send her son back to the Carolina mountains to pick up another load. There’s more than greenery. In the gift store, pottery hewn by Cantrell’s daughter, Nancy Horton, gets chosen for holiday tables and wood puzzles cut by Hans Meier finds its way to Santa’s sack.
Cooper’s Christmas Tree Farm, Braselton. 5577 Winder Hwy. (770) 967-6175. www.coopertreefarm.com  9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. while supplies last. The local evergreens – Leyland Cypress and Carolina Sapphires – grow on about seven acres of Cathy Cooper’s farm where she also trucks in Carolina firs and fashions wreaths, garlands and table decorations. Cooper reported customers were getting in the spirit early this year with brisk sales just after Thanksgiving. She sold out of homemade tree skirts, but still had plenty of stockings, wooden lanterns and other locally produced items in her gift shop. Baked goods and boiled peanuts make great snacks or take-home treats. Kids can get up close to a calf, goats, rabbits and other farm animals in the petting zoo.
Bottoms Tree Farm, Cumming. 5880 John Burruss Rd. 770- 887-2728, 706-429-3173. www.bottomstreefarm.com. Mon.-Fri. 3 p.m.-dark; Sat. 9 a.m.-dark; closed Sun. The area’s largest variety of evergreens – including the two main types grown at the other farms, plus Virginia pine, white pine, and deodar cedar – fill the fields at this family’s farm. Visitors can saw down a homegrown tree or choose a cut one and then take a hayride around the farm, play corn hole, sip cider, roast marshmallows and meet the horses, cows, goats, sheep and pigs.
Southern Tree Plantation, Blairsville. 2226 Owltown Rd. 706-745-0601. www.southerntreeplantation.com. 1-5:30 p.m. Fri. & Sun., 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sat. The northernmost tree farm in the region stays cool enough year-round to grow firs and spruce. The farm hands also haul trees into the barn for customers who’d rather not hike the fields. Wagon and train rides, marshmallow roasts, farm animal exhibits and a wooden maze round out the holiday fun.


Posted online 11.30.18
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