It's hard to break from holiday time errands to make traditions like the annual Christmas tree hunt a priority. We're all just so busy do-ing (and buying, and shipping, and merry-making, and volunteering, and baking, and wrapping, and visiting...you're familiar, right?!). Taking the time to wander a cold and snowy, entirely-too-expansive field, armed with a hand saw while under-dressed and over-caffeinated, can seem like a whole thing you'd rather not add to the list. Even taking a drive off-route to visit a splendid little farm stand for a pre-cut-and-ready-to-go holiday tree seems like a chore. We've decided: it's worth the time. We live in this peaceful, pastoral, agricultural haven with blankets of snow under red barns, shimmery branches, and backdrops of mountains and lakes. We've even got tree farmers in our own backyards! Let's do this! Our advice is to take a deep breath (or three), block off a good few hours (because it will take that long), leave your phone at home, gather your people up and devote yourself to the process. Fully commit to be present. It's SO fun that way!
So if you're willing to try it (thus avoiding the sometimes less than charming cash-and-carry lot on the corner), or even make it a tradition (have you noticed how many have been lost these days?) and would like some Addison County, VT suggestions as to where to go, here's what our team says...
Sinclair Family Tree Farm, 367 Selden Mill Road, Ripton | 802.388.5499
Sarah’s family has made the Sinclair Family Tree Farm their family tradition. This year they visited just after a fresh dusting of snow (Ripton does get a lot of that white stuff!). She describes a cozy fire, hot chocolate, and a slow wander with their pooch to pick out this year’s favorite. You’ll find a full range of sizes (tag one and come back later, or take it with you!), saws, netting and twine – all you’ll need. “They’re friendly people in a beautiful, less-traveled location. It’s clear that they take pride in their operation,” Sarah advises.
Werner Tree Farm, 429 Painter Road, Middlebury | 802.388.7781 | wernertreefarm.com
Courtney’s family has been taking their yearly trip to the Werner Tree Farm in Middlebury. The Werners have been selling pick your own (as well as pre-cut) trees since 1986. The staff will help you bale and tie your choice to your vehicle. On weekends you’ll find hot cocoa, cookies, a model train, local specialty products, and a wide selection of wreaths in the red barn (and don’t miss Twister the Christmas pony!). Courtney explains her choice: “It’s a welcoming place that’s easy to get to and filled with local families all looking for that authentic choose and cut experience. It’s something we look forward to every year!”. Visit Tuesday – Friday, noon – 5pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 10 – 5pm (Monday, Christmas Eve, open 10 – 3pm!) …and another thing, Werner’s website offers a great synopsis on the varieties of trees available in their fields – it’s a great education! (www.wernertreefarm.com/about-our-trees)
Vermont Trade Winds Farm, 1639 Route 74 East, Shoreham | 802.897.2448 | vermonttradewinds.com
Vermont Trade Winds Farm (known by many locals as “Hescocks” for the Hescock family who runs it) offers holiday trees, wreaths, garland and swag, and a plethora of Vermont made specialty foods ready-to-take home. For those of you like Beth, who just cannot bring herself to wander the woods, but who appreciates the charm of a local farm stand, this is the place. “We are drawn to their shop,” explains Beth. “It’s a sweet little place for the family to stop during the holidays – it’s a place to create memories.” You can visit Trade Winds shop March through December, but you’ll find it particularly festive over the holidays. Find freshly popped popcorn, home-made pies, plenty of maple treats and a busy wreath-making crew, 8 – 5pm, seven days a week. (If you stop back during sugaring season, check out the Maple Trail and Sugarhouse Tour!)
The Russell Farm, 1248 VT Route 116, Starksboro | 802.453.2208 | therussellfarm.com
The Russell Farm offers two locations along the Starksboro flats. Their annex location is an easy-to-access lot right off Route 116 where you can choose and cut your own from a well-manicured assortment of all sized trees (a crew will bind your find, and help you tie it to your vehicle!). The original location just a mile or so South offers a true farm experience complete with a sleigh ride, home-made cookies and a fire-warmed cabin for those frostier days. You’ll also find wreaths and their own maple syrup for sale, to round out your visit! Being a Lincoln-ite, Polly has been known to visit the Russell Farm for her family's trees. "We find ourselves ogling the Russell's satellite field all year round, being right off of often-traveled Route 116. We've found ourselves picking out the perfect tree as a passerby in July!" Visit The Russell Farm Saturdays, 10 – 4pm, Sundays 11 – 4pm, and weekdays by appointment!
Where do you find your tree? Tell us in a comment! While we think we know everything there is to know about Addison County (wink, wink), we're also a little stuck in our tree-finding ways. Fill us in, please!!
PS - please give your family farm a ring before visiting to confirm holiday-time hours!