Starr Pines Christmas Tree farm located south of Boonville had an increase in the purchase of real trees this year. Owner of the farm Wayne Harmon said people are enjoying the experience of choosing and cutting their own tree, including drinking warm apple cider in a barn filled with Christmas merchandise.
With approximately 75 acres of trees, which include the traditional Scotch Pine and Norway Spruce, Harmon and his wife Anne have been selling threes for 22 years. Through the years Harmon said he has seen a steady shift from selling to wholesalers to providing a more personal experience with the customer while they purchase a Christmas tree.
"Instead of seeing one happy wholesaler, we now see many happy faces," Harmon said.
He said people come with all sorts of wants, some want a tall skinny tree while others want a large fat tree.
"They wander throughout our fields in search for the perfect tree," Harmon said.
In the last couple years a discount of 50 percent off a live tree is given to those who bring in their artificial tree. Harmon said this has helped bring more people to the farm. He also said it is better for the environment to have real trees instead of trees made out of oil products.
Harmon has seen people from out-of-state in the past but this year he talked to people who traveled all the way from Kansas City and St. Louis to purchase a tree. He also said a lot of people came from Columbia. The farm was open on Christmas Eve which garnered a couple last minute tree purchasers.
"We were very busy, even three days before Christmas. People came to us because we are one of the only tree farms open," Harmon said.
Harmon said they keep planting trees each year.
"We plant thousands of trees to accommodate tree purchases throughout the entire season," Harmon said.
Harmon said the big thing now is Agri Tourism which brings people from all over the region.
In the future Harmon plans to plant more varieties of trees, including firs. He said the pine does very well in the Missouri summers but the firs require much more water.
"Word is getting around and once people find us, they come back every year," Harmon said. "We will continue to cater to people wanting the experience of choosing cutting their own tree."