As November comes to a close, people from Shelton and all the way to Long Island are ready to make their annual trip down to Jones Family Farm to pick up one of the farm’s classic Christmas trees.
“It’s the perfect chance to create a new tradition,” said Tom Harbinson, the farm’s facilities/hospitality manager, who helps oversee the 400 acres. “We have strawberries, blueberries, pumpkins, but we’re especially known for our trees.”
The Jones Family Farm, located on Walnut Street in Shelton, has three farm locations, called Homestead, Valley, and Pumpkin Seed Hill.
According to Harbinson, the family business began in the 1800s and it was a dairy farm until the 1960s. The farm used to be referred to as the Jones Tree Farm, but the name has been changed since other crops have been added to the inventory.
Above all, the farm’s most popular crop is its Christmas trees. Harbinson said it’s more than the actual tree that attracts the customers, it’s the experience.
“On two of our farm locations, Homestead and Valley, our customers have the option of a Harvest Jones or harvesting their own tree,” said Harbinson. “We lend them a saw and send them off into the fields to pick a tree to their liking.”
After a customer picks a tree, Harbinson said, it is the customer’s responsibility to cut it down using the saw provided and to drag it back to the loading station/checkout area. The trees cost a flat $68.
“The most efficient way to get the tree from the field to the checkout area is by using a tarp; it’s much smoother and easier than carrying or dragging a six- or seven-foot tree,” said Harbinson.
The farm has thousands of trees to choose from, and after one is cut down, another is planted in its place. Harbinson said the company takes pride in the experience it provides to its customers and strives to provide them with the best product available.
Each of the thousands of trees growing on the farm are trimmed and managed by the small staff. Harbinson said the farm currently employs 12 people full-time but receives help from volunteers and part-timers as well. The trees are managed to maintain certain styles, but also to prevent disease, mold, and the spreading of infestations.
“Every hand helps,” said Harbinson.
Each year the farm offers a themed ornament. This year’s design was made in Connecticut and was inspired by the late Philip Jones, who began all Christmas tree farming in Shelton back in the 1930s, according to Harbinson.
“He was one of the original founders of the Connecticut Christmas Tree Growers Association back in 1960,” said Harbinson. “He took a lot of pride in this, and you can actually see where he originally planted back in the 30s in what we call the ‘Plantation Lot.’”
The farm also features a scenic fire pit where customers can enjoy cider and cookies. Harbinson said the farm sells only healthy products and in season offers cooking classes to teach people how to prepare good full-course meals using the crops grown on the farm. (Classes are currently not being offered.)
The farm is open for tree shopping daily from 9 to 5:30 but is closed on Thanksgiving. Harbinson advises customers to arrive by 4 p.m. while there is still sunlight.