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Harrowsmith, Ont. tree farmers celebrate 10 years in the business

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Harrowsmith, Ont. tree farmers celebrate 10 years in the business
A family-run farm in Harrowsmith, Ont. is celebrating 10 years in the business -- as many tree farmers begin to age out of the profession – Dec 4, 2022

It’s an occasion for the whole family to enjoy — selecting a Christmas tree. For many, it’s an annual tradition.

“We just think it’s something that you should do every year,” says Christmas tree shopper Josh Switzer. “Just go get a real tree, it makes the house smell good and we love it.”

For the Bowen family, the Christmas tradition of picking out a tree is followed by decorating, apple cider and holiday movies.

“Huge success,” says Richelle Bowen, accompanied by her husband and two children. “We found one (tree) really quick actually, which doesn’t happen every year. Ya, it was perfect.”

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Jim Lavers and his family are celebrating 10 years as farmers, owning and operating The Christmas Farm in Harrowsmith, Ont. — now with about 10,000 trees in the ground.

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And into their second weekend of sales for the season, business is picking up.

“Normally we sell out within three weekends and we’re done,” Lavers says. “So, I don’t think it’s going to be any different this year. So next weekend maybe could be our last weekend.”

While his son Joe is still deciding whether to take over the family business, Jim has noticed a gap in the Christmas tree market due to farmers aging out.

“Our suppliers in Nova Scotia have been in the business for 50 years,” says Lavers. “Next year is going to be the last year that we’re going to be able to get trees from them because they’re in their 80s now and nobody in the family is looking to actually take over the business.”

Lavers says that’s happening in a lot of the farms across Canada — alongside a rise in costs to produce trees.

“It’s costing more to grow the darn things every year,” Lavers says. “You’re looking at huge increases in fertilizer prices, you’re looking at huge increases in fuel prices and it’s on and on and on.”

At The Christmas Farm, the price of trees went up $5 per size category this year.

Lavers says a good relationship with suppliers has allowed him to prevent the price from climbing even higher.

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He says he’s felt the support of local community members, having over 8,000 visitors to the farm last season.

One of the family’s greatest supports comes in the form of his 91-year-old mother-in-law, Oma, who checks in on sales every night.

“She loves to hear how many trees we’ve sold every day, she’s been a huge influence and our biggest fan.”

With no plans of stopping any time soon, this family farm hopes to continue providing holiday cheer for community members for years to come.

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