EASTON, Conn. — While some enjoy shopping for ornaments and others like decorating the tree, there are many whose favorite part of the tradition is heading outdoors in the December chill to cut down their own tree.
“It’s a great family activity,” said Mark Keneally, who manages Keneally Farm, a 3-acre Choose & Cut Christmas Tree farm at 290 Silver Hill Road in Easton.
“You get the whole experience of walking out into a field — of being out there in the quiet, picking out a tree and cutting it down with a saw," he said.
Tree-cutting is a great family activity, he said. “Seventy percent of our business is families," he said. “They are not afraid to come out and get cold."
Some people take an hour to choose just the right tree, while others are done within 10 minutes, Keneally said.
Aside from trees, the business, which is owned by Keneally’s parents Chris and Rachel Keneally, also sells wreaths and firewood.
The family really loves running the Christmas tree business. “It’s a way for our family to be together and see a lot of people in the community," he said. "Friends come to our farm, and we also get to meet new people.”
The farm sells 130 to 200 trees per season, depending on the year, the crop and the weather.
The varieties of trees include spruces, pines and firs. “White spruces is our top-selling tree. It has a nice bluish-green color, a nice shape, softer needles and strong branches,” he said.
The farm also grows what they call “Charlie Brown” trees — in honor of the beloved holiday television show.
“A 'Charlie Brown' tree is a sparse tree that has a lot of space between its branches. It’s not a full V-shaped Christmas tree, it has more character to it," Keneally said.
“It’s for people who don’t like the perfect Christmas tree. They want something kind of funky."
The Keneallys opened their tree farm in 1983 when they moved to Easton. The business is on their back property.
“There was a loyal group of 50 trees planted by the former owner. The year after, my parents started planting more trees to get a farm started," he said.
Today, there are 4,500 trees on the property.
The business is completely sustainable and ecofriendly. “We aren’t using any synthetic products. Everything we use is natural to help our trees grow," Keneally said.
Also, the diversity of trees also keeps pests under control.
“We are constantly trying to promote the best ecosystem," he said,
But one thing that can affect the business dramatically is the weather. “In the winter of 2011, when we had a lot of snow, deer ate 40 percent of our available crop,” Keneally said. “This set us back a lot.”
When snow covers the ground for a long time, the deer run out of food and begin to eat the trees, he said.
“What we learned to do when we have a lot of snow is to put out food for the deer," Keneally said. "It’s cheaper to feed then than to have the crops lost.”
Keneally Farm is open every weekend through Christmas from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekday afternoons from 3 to 5 p.m.
For more information on Keneally Farm, call 203-241-7066 or visit its Facebook page.