Christmas trees ready for harvesting at Shelton farm

SHELTON — With the passing of Thanksgiving came the opening of Christmas-tree hunting season — and crowds of families didn’t waste time flooding the fields at Jones Family Farms last weekend in search for their perfect, fresh-cut trees.

Tom Harbinson, long-time facilities and hospitality manager at Jones Family Farms and Winery, said the farm, located off Walnut Tree Hill Road, has been busier over the past two weeks compared to prior years, and the response from patrons has been positive.

“We do have to manage how many people come to the farm, so a reservation system has been implemented for weekends,” Harbinson said. “And the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We’ve been able to adapt,” Harbinson added. “That is the major word — adapt. We’ve adapted to the current climate to offer a tradition that has such a depth of meaning for so many families. They appreciate that we continue to offer this in a way that keeps people safe but still remembering why they are here: To harvest a tree.”

The farm’s website states that visits during weekends will be highly regulated, and rules about maintaining strict social distancing and staying in small family units of five to six will be enforced.

On weekends, a reservation and payment in advance is required. No one will be able to park their car in a Jones lot unless they have a reservation on weekends.

“People are grateful that we have been able to offer a place to go ... to be outside to enjoy an activity that families have traditionally done every year,” Harbinson said.

Another change, according to Harbinson, is the creation of the holiday courtyard market, in which people can do their “Christmas shopping, old-world style, in the outdoors.” The market sits where the fire pit — unavailable under the state’s COVID-19 guidelines — was situated.

While there is no traditional bonfire gathering spot this year, the Jones Family Farms’ popular Christmas cookies are still available in a grab-and-go style near the Barnyard Village exit. Patrons can also grab gift packs of Jones wines as well.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com