WHITNEY POINT, NY – Today’s Food and Farm Showcase takes us to a farm that grows a staple of the holiday season.
Coles Turnpike Tree Farm in Whitney Point grows and sells 6 different varieties of Christmas trees.
Gary Coles bought the property in 1986, first planted trees in ’87 and is currently on his third rotation.
The farm got its name from the Catskill Turnpike which ran through the property in the mid 1800’s.
It’s a choose and cut operation where Coles provides the saw and wraps them in netting, or he sells others pre-cut.
Coles says he buys 3 year-old seedlings which take another 10 years to mature.
“It’s just like real estate. Location, location, location. Some trees like some spots in the field, some trees don’t like some spots in the field. And there’s some spots won’t grow anything. You learn not to even waste your time on some wet areas. It’s a learning curve,” says Coles.
Coles plants the trees in rows where he can mow in between.
He says he spends about 100 hours each year mowing alone, then prunes and shapes each tree annually.
Besides the weather, he must deal with fungus and deer.
Coles says Scotch Pines were still popular when he planted them 10 years ago, but not anymore.
He says Christmas tree growing is a labor of love.