Written for MyCentralJersey.com
There’s nothing like wandering through a maze of trees alongside family to choose and chop the perfect Christmas evergreen to get you in the holiday spirit.
Here in picturesque Central Jersey, there’s no shortage of local fir trees to choose from for your own home.
Everitt Farms of Ringoes, a 130-year-old family-owned farm, has been selling Fraser fir and Douglas fir trees for about 35 years, originally from the front of farm owner Dave Everitt’s house.
Then, a neighboring farm asked Everitt if he wanted to sell the trees there, and when that neighbor’s farm went out of business, Everitt figured that it was no reason to stop his tree sales — with one condition.
“I’m tired of wind, rain, snow and sleet, so I said that we are only going to do it if we can do it inside,” he said. “So, we emptied out a hay barn, filled it with trees from eastern Pennsylvania, set it up to look like a forest and then added in animals for kids to play with, food, Santa Claus and Christmas music.”
Everitt sells about 350 trees per year from his indoor forest, all grown from Becks Christmas Tree Farm in Slatington, Pennsylvania. Each year, the trees, which range from $55 to $275 depending on height, quality and variety, just about sell out — many from the same families each year.
“Families brought in their kids when they were 3 or 4 years old, and now those children are coming back with their own kids,” he said.
Everitt Farms also offers a tree delivery service for huge trees that aren’t easily transportable, ideal for homes that want to utilize their cathedral ceilings with tall Christmas trees.
For those looking for a more modest evergreen, Everitt also offers more charitable pricing for families in need.
“You can tell when there’s a family that needs a little help,” he said. “Everyone needs a tree.”
Giamarese Farm, an East Brunswick farm that has been family-owned and operated for the past 75 years, started growing their own Christmas trees about 25 years ago in an effort to extend their farm season. Since then, they have also become a family tradition.
“People come out year after year, often on Black Friday after spending Thanksgiving dinner with their families,” said Jim Giamarese, farm owner. “They keep coming back because our trees are live and fresh, plus we grow them ourselves.”
At Giamarese Farm, families get a tag upon entering and can browse the 7,000 trees and then tag their selected tree, ranging from 1 foot tall to 12 feet tall, with price based on height and tree variety, from $7.50 per foot to $9.50 per foot.
Farm staff then cuts the tree, shakes it out, trims it, bags it and loads it onto the customer’s vehicle. Giamarese Farms offer Colorado blue spruces, concolor firs, Douglas firs, Norway spruces as well as pre-cut Fraser firs.
Each year, about 700 people visit the farm and take home a tree, which they have the option to cut down themselves. Giamarese stresses that although people may feel guilty about cutting down a tree, in the end, it’s the more environmentally sound choice.
“A real tree is better since it provides fresh air and it’s a habitat for animals throughout its lifespan,” he said. “You might feel bad cutting it down, but it’s going to be turned into wood chips or mulch once you’re done with it. If you have a fake tree, you use it for 5-10 years, but then you have to get rid of it and it will sit in a landfill for 100 years.”
Hunterdon County tree farms
Alger Tree Farm, 7 Beacon Light Road, Califon, 908-832-2298 or algertreefarm.com — Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir, Concolor Fir, from 6 feet to more than 12 feet. Most trees cost $75, with some priced at $50 or $60. Cash or check only. Open weekends, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Dec. 18. Also open Nov. 25 and the week of Nov. 28 through Dec 2, noon to 5 p.m.
Cherryville Farms, 352 Quakertown Road, Pittstown, 908-806-4580 or cherryvillefarmsnj.com — Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir, Canaan Fir, Concolor Fir. Pricing is about $8.50 per foot. Cash or check only. Wreaths, crafts, refreshments, wagon rides. Cut-your-own or staff will cut. No chainsaws. Leashed pets welcome, but please bring bag to clean up waste. Opens for the 2016 season Nov. 25 and runs weekends until Dec. 18. Hours are 9 a.m. until dark.
Everitt Farms, 258 County Road 579, Ringoes, 908-782-5083 or facebook.com/firbrothers — Fraser Fir or Douglas Fir. Pricing ranges from $55 to $275 based on height, quality and variety. Wreaths, blankets, animals, food, Santa Claus and Christmas music in an “indoor forest” housed inside a hay barn. Open for the 2016 season starting Nov. 25 until Christmas Eve and runs weekdays 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and weekends 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Middlesex County tree farms
Barclay’s Christmas Tree Farm, 35 Orchardside Dr., Cranbury, 609-799-1855 or barclaystreefarm.com — Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir, Concolor Fir, Fraser Fir. Price is $55 for any tree up to 12 feet and $90 for over 12 feet. Wreaths, Christmas tree stands and other supplies for sale. Cash or checks only. Leashed dogs welcome. Hours are from 9 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. Nov 25 and weekends through Dec. 18.
Giamarese Farm, 155 Fresh Pond Road, East Brunswick, 732-821-9494 or giamaresefarm.com — Christmas trees available for tagging and cutting, from Thanksgiving week through Christmas Eve. Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir, Concolor Fir, available for cutting. Pre-cut Fraser and Douglas firs. No pets allowed. Open from 10 a.m. to about 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays. Farm market also open.
Lantier Tree Farm, 163 Dey Grove Road, Monroe, 732-446-9799 or lantiertreefarm.net — Family-owned and operated for more than 30 years. Craft shop, snack shop, trees, balled trees and wreaths. Price is $60 for any size Douglas Fir, Norway Spruce or Blue Spruce. Pre-cut Fraser Firs priced by the foot. Open daily from 9 a.m. to about 5 p.m., Nov. 25 through Dec. 24.
Somerset County tree farms
Dower Farm, 4 Todd Ave., Peapack, 908-781-6311 or dowerfarm.com — For more than 40 years, Dower Farm has offered Christmas trees, mainly Norway Spruce and Canaan Fir. Trees are priced at $9 per foot. Cash or check only. Pets welcome, but please leash your dogs. Open weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Nov. 26 through Dec. 18. Trees are priced at $9 per foot.
Wolgast Tree Farm and Apiary, 176 Bennetts Lane, Somerset section of Franklin, 732-873-3206 or wolgasttreefarm.com — Austrian Pine, White Pine, Norway Spruce, Canaan Fir, Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir. All trees are $45, regardless of size or species. Also selling wreaths, tree stands, local honey, beeswax and beeswax products, and bluebird boxes handmade from Jersey-grown Douglas Firs. Well behaved, leashed dogs welcome, but please bring bag to collect waste. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends, Nov. 26 through Dec. 18.