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Local Christmas tree farm open for 2013 season

Published 7:29pm Friday, December 6, 2013

They plant nearly 800 new trees every January and start trimming all of the trees in April.

When he isn’t working as an electrician, Michael trims all of the trees himself three times between April and September to give the trees their shape.

He said he could trim about 200–300 trees in 2–3 hours.

“It’s lots of work,” Michael said. “Seeing their faces when they come back makes it better.”

In September, the Neelys and Duncans start to decorate the farm and gift shop, adding new painted wooden cutouts, such as snowmen, for children to stand behind for pictures.

After picking out a tree, children can ride back to the shop in a barrel cart.

Neely Farms is a member of the Southern Christmas Tree Association and offers Virginia Pines as well as fresh-cut Fraser Fir trees brought in from North Carolina.

The farm contains five patches of trees. At any given time, the farm has roughly 3,000–4,000 trees in various stages of development.

Last year, the family sold more than 360 trees.

Virginia Pines each cost $25 and up, and Fraser Firs are $50 and up.

Ginger said every tree has a tag since prices depend on the size of individual trees.

After customers choose the trees they want to cut and buy, Ginger and her family shake the trees to remove debris and loose pine needles.

Then, they push it through a cylindrical structure that wraps netting around the tree to protect its branches during transport.

Tree stands, preservatives, bags and flocking are also available.

Customers wanting tree flocking (a white material resembling fake snow) should expect to leave their trees at the farm overnight to allow the flocking to dry.

Ginger said the trees that don’t sell before Christmas are used for a different, environmentally beneficial purpose.

“Because we have to clear a patch to replant in January, Alabama Power picks up all unwanted trees for fish habitats on the lakes,” Ginger said. “We don’t burn any of our trees. They pick up every one of them.”

Customers can also buy handmade wreaths in various sizes with handmade bows.

Two years after the farm opened, Ginger’s sister-in-law, Lacy Neely, opened the gift shop, where customers can purchase Christmas ornaments and sample complimentary hot chocolate and spiced tea.

Neely Farms is open Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1–5 p.m., until Dec. 22.

Ginger said the farm opens even when it’s raining, but customers are advised to wear appropriate shoes for walking through the wet tree patches.

Although some people might view a live Christmas tree as a hassle, Ginger said she sees it as a good opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends picking out the “perfect” tree at the farm.

“I have a lot of people say they did fake [trees] before they came out here,” she said. “The smell is wonderful, and you don’t have to store a real tree, either. With all the work, the favorite time for us is seeing everyone come and hearing their memories.”

For more information, contact (205) 389-1831, (205) 688-1826 or neelyfarms@centurytel.net, or go to NeelyFarmsChristmasTrees.homestead.com.

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