Standing in the barn a few weeks ago, I couldn’t believe that this was the FIFTH year that we had been selling Christmas Trees!!
Back in 2011, our first 5,000 trees had been in the ground for almost 6 years and we were keen to see whether our idea was going to work. Would people come to our farm to choose their own Christmas Tree still growing in the field? We borrowed a small marquee and sent letters to a handful of local schools asking them if they would be kind enough to send flyers home with the children in return for a donation to the PTA. We were going to open at weekends only starting on the weekend of the Father Christmas Parade in Cowbridge, when we thought people might be in the mood for buying their Christmas Tree. In fact one of the first Christmas Trees we sold (if not THE first – can’t quite remember back that far!!) was displayed on a house in Cowbridge in time for that Parade by this lovely family….
So…Andrew was ready with his saw and with a few friends to help, we waited….and PEOPLE CAME!!! They pulled on their wellies and tramped into the field. The trees were a little bit small, but most were happy to compromise as they shared our view that freshness and provenance was more important. We stood our own little Tree proudly on a table in the hallway!
Unfortunately, the weather was against us and I arrived home one day to find that the marquee had almost blown away and we needed to buy a couple of replacement tent poles! That was the end of our first season!!
The next year, our neighbour kindly allowed us to use his shed so at least we had a permanent shelter, albeit an open fronted one!
The trees were growing bigger….
Lots of people came back and many had told their friends! Again, we were only open at weekends but there were cars everywhere and we realised that we were going to have to make some changes before the next season.
2013 was therefore spent sorting out a new access to the farm and the construction of a new barn.
The time had also come to find a team to help us. We needed chainsaw operators, people to help the customers in the field and a way to haul the trees back to the barn. We were fortunate to find a fabulous bunch of lads and our first tractor, Henry!
2013 also saw the launch of our lovely new website. More people were now able to find us and this led to a few TV appearances (!) including on ‘Dolig Dudley with S4C’s TV chef, Dudley Newberry, BBC’s X-Ray, S4C’s long running soap opera, Pobl y Cwm, Made in Cardiff TV and this Christmas I was interviewed on Heno (in Welsh!!!!).
We have also discovered that selling Christmas Trees is not an activity confined to the month of December. We have supplied trees to The Green Man Festival (in August), to TV production companies (for use in Sherlock, Crud-yr-Awel) and in October one of our Norway Spruces appeared “live” on stage in A Doll’s House at The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff.
As a result, 2015 saw us become “full time” Christmas Tree farmers – and we also diversified into holiday accommodation with the opening of Ty Cerrig Woodland Retreats. But that’s another story….