DETROIT — Christmas tree farms are not very common in Texas, but for roughly three years, Lee’s Christmas Tree Farm has provided holiday cheer for the people of Northeast Texas.
Melanie and Steaven Lee, the farm’s owners, grew up in farming families, and they knew they wanted to be connected to the land as well. When deciding what type of farming they wanted to get into, Melanie said, the answer came easily.
“We wanted to do something different, and there really isn’t much in the way of Christmas tree farms in these parts, and we love Christmas and the whole season, and so we decided that that’s what we wanted to do,” she said. “When we were kids we would go out and cut down our own Christmas trees, and you can’t really do that these days. So we wanted to give people a way to go cut a fresh Christmas tree.”
The process of establishing the farm has been one of learning, she said. Over the years, and through trial and error, they’ve learned the ins and outs of tree farming, including which variations of trees work best, how to bring in bigger fir trees and more.
“You can’t grow Fraser firs here, which are these big trees and some of the most popular Christmas trees,” Melanie said. “Those grow in the more mountainous regions of the United States. In Texas, what we’re able to grow here is usually a variety of pine or cypress tree… That’s what we plant here.”
Trees grow roughly a foot per year, meaning it will take roughly six years for cut-sized trees to fully grow, Melanie said.
Running the farm is hard work, as Steaven said he routinely makes long trips from their home in Detroit to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to pick up trees. However, it’s all worth it.
“I’d say the best part is seeing the smiling faces on the kids when they come to pick up their trees,” he said. “That makes it all worth it.”
In addition to the trees, the farm has a gift shop where they sell wreaths and other holiday items, and also hosts community events throughout the season. In the fall, when selling pumpkins, the farm partnered with the Red River Valley Downs Syndrome Society.
And on Dec. 8, the farm will be partnering with Toys For Tots, and children can come and have their picture taken with Santa if they donate a toy.
“We want this to be more than just coming and getting a tree and leaving,” Steaven said. “We want this to be a trip, an experience.”