By HEATHER RUPPE
The Christmas spirit and the tradition of getting your own Christmas Tree is still in full swing at a local tree farm, despite higher-than-normal costs for real Christmas Trees.
Smiling Bear Christmas Tree Farm is located in Walterboro and has been supplying area families with fresh trees for more than a decade. This year, however, the small business is experiencing the pangs of a nationwide Christmas Tree shortage: a severe drought in the Northwest greatly reduced Christmas Tree crops, while too much rain in the Northeast created a fungus that prevented a mass number of trees from being cut and shipped.
Because of the shortage, Smiling Bear has fewer than 50 percent of the Frasier Firs they normally have.
“The Frasier Firs came in a much higher price … we were able to get some extra trees from another farm,” said Smiling Bear Owner Rick Adams. Rick and his wife, Annette, own the farm together. They bought it three years ago from the original owners.
“The prices are higher for Frasier Firs this year,” he said. “We hate to charge this much but the prices are high for us, too. “It’s hard to look people in the face and tell them what trees cost this year,” he said, saying the average cost went up 60-70 percent for them to purchase the trees for their own tree farm.
In addition to selling Frasier Firs, Smiling Bear Christmas Tree Farm offers a cut-your-own experience with Carolina Sapphire trees and Cyprus trees.
This past holiday weekend, Annette and Rick said they had a lot of people coming to buy their trees as part of holiday traditions. “People are still looking for a live tree,” he said. “The holiday spirit is definitely here!” To prepare for the future of Christmas Tree sales, the Adams are now planting 900 new trees this year. The couple also added irrigation to the local farm. Since trees take 4-6 years to fully mature, they are preparing for future growth and sales.
“We see Walterboro as being in a growth state,” said Annette Adams. “This is our forever home and we will keep this going.”
Smiling Bear Christmas Tree Farm is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through December. They are located at 126 Burlington Road in Walterboro and can be found on Facebook at Smiling Bear Christmas Tree Farm.
This farm is certified and approved by the S.C. Department of Agriculture.
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