CHENANGO FORKS, NY – Our Food and Farm Showcase takes us to a Chenango County Christmas tree farm that’s a popular place to make family traditions.

Joe and Jessica Licata started Chalker Creek Farms in 2012 when it bought the property from a couple who were retiring from the Christmas tree business.

Chalker Creek sells a variety of you-cut trees, frasier fir, concolor, blue spruce and white spruce in a variety of sizes from Charlie Brown trees to 14 feet tall.

It has roughly 6,000 trees spread across 50 acres and plants anywhere from 800 to 2,000 more each year.

Joe Licata says customers have been particularly complimentary of the quality of trees this year.

“They like to come with their family, they bring their dogs and they cut down their tree. Some people stay for hours just walking around and cutting their trees,” says Licata.

Licata says raising Christmas trees is a lot more involved than people think.

Trees are planted when they are already 4 years old and then take another 7 years on average to mature.

There’s year-round mowing, shearing and shaping in the Summer, fertilizing and insect and weed control.

But the biggest challenge is warding off the deer who love to feast on the young seedlings.

Licata uses some fencing and dogs to divert the deer.

“There are a lot of tree farms that are cutting back and winding down. It’s a tough business. You have to be very diligent to make a profit doing this and it’s a lot of work. Like you mentioned before, people come and think the trees just grow. It takes a lot of attention. But, it’s a labor of love for us,” says Licata.

Through the tree business, Chalker Creek has built up a customer base for its other products during the remainder of the year, including maple syrup, honey, pork, chicken and eggs.

Those are sold by appointment.

The Christmas trees are sold on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 until dusk.

All trees are 38 dollars regardless of size or variety.

For more information, go to ChalkerCreek.com or find them on Facebook.