Christmas trees: A business of cheer

By on December 10, 2014
Heritage Tree Farm in Rothsville offers horse-drawn wagon rides as part of the Christmas tree experience.

Heritage Tree Farm in Rothsville offers horse-drawn wagon rides as part of the Christmas tree experience.

Deb Weaver has always wanted to own a Christmas tree farm.

“I remember as a little girl I thought it would be such a neat idea,” she said. “I love Christmas, and it seemed like the perfect way to be able to spread that cheer.”

Today, Weaver is living that dream.

As the third generation Heritage Tree Farm in Rothsville, Weaver has spent the past seven years caring for more than 10,000 trees on 10 acres of the family farm.

But starting out wasn’t easy, she said.

Weaver’s grandfather had owned the farm since 1952, but it was only 30 years ago that she and her family would move onto the property. She hoped to start the tree farm back then, but it seemed like a distant hope as she kept busy raising her children.

“It seems my desire sparked the idea for others, too,” she said.

It was her daughter and son-in-law who made the suggestion of starting the tree farm seven years ago, she said.

The first planting was in April 2007. The family put 2,000 trees in the ground and another 2,000 each year after until the farm grew to its current size.

In 2010, they started selling trees behind the Tomato Pie Café along North Broad Street in Lititz.

“We opened that stand to try to establish a base for our customers,” Weaver said. “For so many people, a Christmas tree is a tradition. And where you go to get your tree is part of that tradition.”

The downtown Lititz site is self-serve through the week, with an attendant there on the weekends to help people load up their cars or pick the perfect evergreen.

Those who make the trip to the farm at 142 Church Road in Rothsville can be treated on the weekends to a horse-drawn ride out to the tree fields. There are a variety of trees available on the small farm, including Douglas, blue spruce, Frasier and concolor (a new variety that is hypoallergenic to those with a pine allergy), Weaver said.

For those in the Christmas tree business, there’s great joy in getting to work together as a family.

Jackie Bowser and her husband, Lewis, have run Bowser’s Tree Farm for more than 20 years at 551 Stauffer Road in Warwick Township. But they never have to do it alone. The couple’s three sons, Lew Jr., David and Mark, as well as their wives, step in to help with the business each year.

The business sells Douglas and blue spruce on its five acres of land. It also offers Frasier trees shipped in from northern parts of Pennsylvania.

“They grow a lot better in those conditions, but people like them because the needles don’t fall off as easily,” Jackie Bowser said.

About 150 people tag their trees each year and call ahead to have the Bowser family cut it down and have it ready to go.

“It’s a very friendly time of year,” Jackie said. “People come with their families, they might bring their dog. It’s a lot of work to get this place ready, but we really love it. I’ve done this so many years I don’t know what else I would do around the holiday. It wouldn’t feel the same.”

Weaver agrees, Christmas is much more enjoyable when she can spend it with other people.

“It’s nice that I can do this with my family around me,” she said. “When you include other families and you see the joy on their faces, it makes all the work you put in throughout the year worth it. It makes you appreciate Christmas so much more.”

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