SHELTON, Conn. — Santa’s sleigh ride may be four months from today, but it’s Christmas every day at Jones Family Farms in Shelton.
Staffers have been busy this week pruning each and every evergreen on 200 of the farm’s 400 acres, making sure they’re all spruced up for the throngs of buyers who will begin showing up the weekend before Thanksgiving.
And how many trees is that?
“Oh, it’s literally thousands,” said Tom Harbinson, facilities and infrastructure manager. “Thousands of people come and we hope each car leaves with a tree on the roof.”
Families have been harvesting their own Christmas trees for more than 60 years on the rolling hills at Jones’ Homestead Farm. Those who prefer to choose from already cut trees can visit that site or head to Jones’ Valley Farm just down Walnut Tree Hill Road.
Jones offers five varieties of trees — Douglas, Balsam and Fraser firs, Blue Spruce and Angel White Pine — and each type has its admirers, Harbinson said.
Many favor the sturdy Fraser as the “quintessential” Christmas tree, while others prefer the longer needles of the delicate Angel White Pine.
Fourth-generation farmer Philip Jones planted evergreen seedlings on the farm as part of a 4-H forestry project in 1938. Some of the original trees still stand along the edge of the farm, towering 100 feet above today’s Christmas trees.
Each variety’s journey from seedling to star of the living room picture window takes about 8 to 10 years, Harbinson said, and it involves much more than a simple plant-and-forget approach.
In many parts of the farm, staff plant new trees wherever a tree has been harvested, while other sections — all of which are cataloged and documented — were planted in a single “block.”
Each summer, staffers go through the rows, carefully shaping each tree. That involves lopping off specific lengths of the “leader” at the top of the tree to encourage uniformity and a classic Christmas tree shape.
“We like a lot of fullness,” Harbinson said.
While the pruners try to envision each tree growing to 8- to 10-year height, guests are perfectly welcome to cut and carry their own Charlie Brown variety, too, as even the tiniest trees are up for grabs.
“Every family is looking for something different,” Harbinson said. “And I think the tree will speak to you.”
Jones Family Farms begins selling Christmas trees the weekend before Thanksgiving and will be open daily through Dec. 23 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The farm will be closed Thanksgiving Day and will open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 24.
Guests can call the Jones Crop Report hotline — 203-929-8425 — for hours, weather conditions and directions.
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