Staying local: Christmas tree farms prepare for season

      (Brandon Geier/WCIV)

      By Stacy

      JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- A tree is the only gift that houses other gifts. For Chase Hills, 14, cutting down his own Christmas tree this year meant the start of new memories.

      "It's something you need during Christmas. It's something to put the presents under or decorate with the family," he said.

      Chase and his family visited Noel's Christmas Tree Farm Wednesday. He said he would remember the experience throughout the holidays.

      "This was a lot different than it usually is. I've gone to Walmart and I've never gotten to cut down a tree," Chase said.

      "It's a really good time for families to get together and share in the experience of going to a farm and looking for real trees still attached to the ground, still on the stump," farm owner Charles Tumbleston said.

      Tumbleston said he also did his part to help the local economy.

      "I have to employ people to help me keep fields cut and trees trimmed properly," he said.

      But, farm shoppers are not buying as local as they may think. Tumbleston said because of demand, he had to order pre-cut fir trees from North Carolina.

      "For some reason people think firs are the 'traditional Christmas tree,'" he said.

      In fact, cypress trees are native to the South Carolina coast. He said they can stand up to the wind and salt. In contrast, fir trees can only grow at high altitudes.

      Though national estimates predicted an increase in local tree farm sales, Tumbleston said he expects to have about the same as last year. He said people think it's easier to go to the big box stores.

      "I wish that would change. People would have a lot more fun if they brought their families out and cut their trees," he said.

      That's a lesson Chase learned Wednesday. He knew it would be the background for even more family memories.

      "It's about spending time with your family, having a good time and being the best family you can be," Chase said.

      Noel's Christmas Tree Farm is on Johns Island. Trees cost between $25 and $110, depending on height.