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With 3 weeks left in season, Christmas tree demand at its peak on P.E.I.

There are more than 4,500 balsam fir trees on the lot at Green Needle, including seedlings. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News - image credit)
There are more than 4,500 balsam fir trees on the lot at Green Needle, including seedlings. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News - image credit)

There were already cars in the parking lot at Green Needle Tree Farm in Winsloe, P.E.I., when it opened at noon on the first Sunday in December.

After three decades of selling balsam fir trees to Island families, Thomson has seen his customer base grow along with the trees.

"I'm usually closed Mondays and Tuesdays," said owner Charles Thomson. "But this time of year I think they can come in on those days. It's getting close to Christmas."

He said it is wonderful to see the families "and they love getting pictures taken. I do that for them. They get their candy canes, the kids. They enjoy it, and it's great for me, I enjoy it, too."

Green Needle Farm owner Charles Thomson says people start picking out their trees as early as September.
Green Needle Farm owner Charles Thomson says people start picking out their trees as early as September.

Green Needle Farm owner Charles Thomson says people start picking out their trees as early as September. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News)

Thomson says some families came months ago to pick out their perfect tree in advance, from his lot of 4,500.

He expects Green Needle will stay open until the end of next week, but by that point there will be fewer options.

"They're getting down, they're getting picked over, but there's still a few 6-footers, 7-footers," he said.

A true family business

On Kingston Road in Emyvale, P.E.I., Nancy Smith and her husband, Gordon Carmody, have been planting trees for over a decade.

"This is our home plus our passion and our dream," Smith said. "We have 11 acres of farm where we grow Christmas trees, and we have a flock of chickens, and we just like to have people come around."

Emyvale Ranch started growing Christmas trees more than a decade ago, and Smith says while it's still a small operation it's grown a lot since the early days.

"We transplanted them, probably some of them were a foot high, from our woodlot across the road," Smith said. "Then the next couple of years we decided we really wanted to grow Christmas trees, so we would get them from the provincial forestry."

Nancy Smith has been growing trees in Emyvale for more than a decade and says she loves watching children come back every year.
Nancy Smith has been growing trees in Emyvale for more than a decade and says she loves watching children come back every year.

Nancy Smith has been growing trees in Emyvale for more than a decade and says she loves watching children come back every year. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News)

Like at Green Needle, customers start tagging their trees at Emyvale in the early fall. Smith says her customers, many of whom come back every year for their tree, are like family.

"It's pretty exciting, especially to see the children grow," Smith said.

Smith says there are about 5,000 trees of varying sizes on the lot because everyone wants something different. So far, the 2023 season has been busy for the small farm.

"On the weekends people start coming at nine o'clock, and they'll come right up to four or five o'clock in the evening," she said. "I's always a conversation, always a few smiles, laughs and they go away happy with a very perfect beautiful Christmas tree."

While Smith knows not everyone chooses a real tree, having grown up on a farm, it's something she always wanted to do.

"You can't have a farm without trees," she said. "Sometimes you just need to go to the woods, and the trees are just so cosy and comfortable."