Some local families might have to make a change to their Christmas tree-seeking adventure this year, as Tuckaway Tree Farm in McAlevys Fort is not open this holiday season.
“If you don’t have the stock big enough, you close. We’re down about 150 trees or so I didn’t want to disappoint people and we didn’t want anybody to freak out,” said tree farm owner Robert Nicholl.
In the past, Tuckaway Tree Farm harvested and provided ornamental trees and evergreens for central Pennsylvania garden centers and landscaping markets. They also grew a variety of evergreens to be sold as Christmas trees for both the wholesale and retail trade.
But this year, Tuckaway is going on a one-year hiatus in order to allow their stock of Christmas trees to grow. The average size of a Christmas tree is about seven to eight feet in height, while the much larger trees can reach between 10 to 12 feet.
Nicholl said it takes a good amount of time to grow a Christmas tree to its average height.
“The first 6 or 7 footers you need about six years into them to grow, then about five more years or so to get a 10 footer to the right height.”
The farm has been in operation since 1930, and Nicholl took ownership of the land sometime in the mid 1980s when the farm had a small amount of trees.
“About 1985 is when I got the farm, I’ve had it for about 31+ years, it’s been steady but it’s never been easy,” he said. “When I bought it there was a fews trees on the property, but we planted more with the help of some young fellows.”
In the 1990s, Nicholl partnered with Christopher Kiratzis who over saw the product development, inventory control and distribution of the business.
“In 1993, I took on a partner to help me out. His name was Chris Kiratzis. He left about five years ago,” said Nicholl.
According to Nicholl, the farm currently has thousands of trees already planted and he plans to plant more in the spring.
“We’ve got about 6,500 trees planted now, we may plant more next spring, hopefully to keep the tradition rolling.”
Nicholl is planning to sell parts of tree farm next year, but plans to stay on to help guide the new owners.
“I’m selling it, and taking it to auction next spring, the land is family-friendly and kids tend to sled and have a good time up on some of the hills,” he said.
Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.