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The Sun's Striations Danced through the Tree Boughs

Posted Oct 21 2008 12:13am

Well, okay, Christmas trees aren't food. But if I'm truly committed to supporting local farmers, I figure I have to continue supporting the local Christmas tree farm as well, which means skipping the Fraser Fir and Noble Fir (although the farm sells them pre-cut but they come from North Carolina and Washington) and going for the only Christmas tree that grows in this area--the Leyland Cyprus, which is more commonly used as a privacy buffer in suburban neighborhoods after they have been clear-cut for new construction and you get tired of peering into your neighbors' kitchens all day.

"Why are we doing this again?" my husband asked, as we all loaded into the car to chop down our tree, after I made the mistake of mentioning that we could just swing over to Home Depot and be back in twenty minutes. He was remembering last year, when we cut down a tree at least four feet too big for our home and spent until 1 AM butchering it to fit.

My daughter answered it best. "Because you sort of hated doing it last year, but you agreed to do it again this year. Because you love us. Because you know we're big enough to cut it down all by ourselves this year. Because it's a way to spend the afternoon together. Because it's Christmas."

So we rode the Berry Patch Farms hayride to the forest of trees and walked around with our saws, waiting for a tree to "talk to us" and reminding the kids not to listen unless the tree was no bigger than Daddy. A hot air balloon had just landed in the next field, the sun's striations danced through the tree boughs, and the only sounds we heard were our feet crunching the dry, cold earth.

Berry Patch Farms was started in 1978 by Bill and Debbie Durden as a pick-your-own-fruit farm. They specialize in blueberries, but also grow pumpkins and Christmas trees to round out the seasons. They sell related products in their simple farm store, have ample parking, restrooms, a playground, and a lodge for lounging by the fire while sipping cider. They have clearly embraced the principles for creating an enjoyable farm visit. Agri-tourism, where farms invite consumers onto the farm for unique farm-related experiences such as education (cheesmaking classes, herbal remedies, fiber arts, historical recreations), tours (dairy farm or winery), harvesting (u-pick farms) or entertainment (corn mazes, festivals) can engage the public and save the family farm.

Needless to say, we found the prettiest tree ever (or does it just look that way to us?) and the kids even let my husband make a ceremonial chop or two.

Consider visiting a family farm in 2007. Go to to find out more about Berry Patch Farms and maybe we'll see you in blueberry season! To find agritourism options near you, go to

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