A Shining Example of the New Enterprise Environment

Joe's tree farm 2On Monday afternoon I went out to Joe’s Trees to cut down this year’s real Christmas tree. It was a rather quiet afternoon so I had a long enjoyable talk with the owner, Sue Bostic. In a previous post I mentioned that I’ve been coming to Joe’s Trees for over a decade. Sue still remembers the year that I was traveling to my childhood home for the holidays and hauled an 11 foot tree for 5 hours on the roof of my 1990 Toyota Camry! We talked about my recent article “Should You Buy a Real or Fake Christmas Tree” and how much she appreciated us sharing valuable, accurate information with the public about trees. “So many of our visitors come from cities and have no idea about the growth of a tree or the environmental value of tree farms. We hope to change that.” said Sue. She forwarded the article to Jeff Miller, Secretary of the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association and the National Christmas Tree Association who also enjoyed the post. It’s extra special to know that our posts are valuable to those could benefit from Rural System concepts and that we’re getting meaningful traffic on our blog.

With so many small farms struggling, it was wonderful to hear that Joe’s Trees’ business has substantially expanded over the past few years. Last weekend alone they sold over 700 trees in just two days! Sue is both elated and concerned about the future since tree farm planning is done by the decade. Tree farmers often must plant 3 times as many trees as they intend to harvest to account for some loss and some misshapen “Charlie Brown” trees. The most commonly harvested height is 5-6 feet which takes nearly 8 years to grow! Thus farmers must project business demand almost a decade in advance to appropriately prepare. Despite these concerns, Sue’s jovial nature leaves her hopeful about the future and exceedingly pleased for her family farm. If the supply of trees runs short she can supplement with cut trees from a nearby wholesale grower.

I asked Sue what she thought contributed to the boost in sales and she said “I began doing a pumpkin patch. One acre of pumpkins for sale in October, partly for the profit from pumpkins but mostly to inform people of our Christmas trees and offer the option of picking and marking a tree before the Christmas rush!” Sue is a smart woman but she isn’t the only talented member of the Bostic family. Her sons rear their own lambs and raise bees for honey. They’ve also partnered with other farmers to supply local, healthy beef and eggs in the gift shop.

From a customer’s perspective, I had noticed the increase in customers over the years but instead of a decline in service, Sue’s family has added many features that visitors can enjoy. The kids can meet Santa, go on hayrides, and the quaint gift shop offers hot cocoa, an assortment of decorations, and tree accessories. The best part of the trip for me was talking with the knowledgeable Bostic family. Wish you could get your tree to live longer after cutting? Want to know which tree will shed the least, smell the best, or hold the heaviest ornaments? Need to know how best to cook your venison? How about a recipe for dinner-in-a-pumpkin? Entertaining the idea of beekeeping? Sue and her family are warm and welcoming and you’re guaranteed to learn something each time you visit.

What impresses me most about Joe’s Trees is that they are a perfect example of the new, diverse, rural enterprise environment that we talk about in Rural System (skim our series of posts). With multiple complimentary, profitable ventures on the property Joe’s Trees is able to maintain a flourishing farm business when many others are faltering.

The 11 foot tall tree

The 11 foot tall Christmas tree from Joe’s Trees in 2004! It took three people to load it onto the truck. Sue’s team helped me lift and tie it to my Camry for the 5hr drive. Luckily the indentation in the roof was only temporary!The 11 foot tall tree

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About Risa Pesapane

Risa is the Project Director for Rural System, Inc. and is an experienced research biologist and wildlife ecologist.

Comments

  1. We also offer Bison at our farm. Great info Risa and we are so glad you continue to make your Real Tree memories with Joe’s Trees. Customers like you are like family. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

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