Christmas is a few short weeks away – in case you were idly wondering why the shops were going all red-and-white.. Businesses everywhere are gearing up for the festive season, none more so than Langford Lakes Christmas Tree Farm just outside Langford Budville. Getting everything ready for the harvest and sales is particularly important here where there is only one chance each year to get it right.
The 40-acre farm is owned and run by Reg and Ann Hendy with the help of their two sons, Shaun and Nick, and 15 other part-time staff. Christmas trees – between 60 and 70 thousand of them – are grown on 30 acres alongside four coarse fishing lakes.
Each year several thousand are harvested, all of them then sold to individual buyers at the farm. None are sold in bulk to retail outlets or garden centres. The Hendys’ regular customers come from as far away as Reading and Bath, knowing that the trees grown here are tended and nurtured carefully to produce a top-quality product.
A six-foot tree bought this year will have been growing for 12 years. Two year-old Nordman and Fraser fir seedlings come to the farm directly from the Caucasus mountains where they are indigenous.
From the time they are planted to harvesting they will be pruned and sprayed to control aphids, buds will be rubbed and their soil will be fertilised. These particular trees, and Norway spruces which the farm also grows, are noted for their ‘needle array’ and ‘low needle drop’ and, at the end of the season, they can be returned to be chipped and composted to improve the soil for the next harvest.
In these days of increased environmental awareness there are some little-known facts associated with Christmas trees. Did you know that every acre produces enough daily oxygen for 16 people? Or that a hectare of trees absorbs 6 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year? And Mr Hendy underlines other qualities: “Buying a tree from your local grower helps reduce your carbon footprint, every tree cut and sold at Christmas is replaced by at least two new seedlings and the bushy branches of the trees provide a haven for nesting birds.”
Customers heading to the farm to buy their trees – and there will be freshly cut stocks from 3 to 30 feet tall for sale, all of them netted – will also find a seasonal shop selling decorations and lights, tree stands and festive wreaths. The farm and shop open for business on Friday 23rd Nov from 9am to 6pm and until 8pm on 7th and 14th Dec. Free mince pies and drinks will be available, with donations going to Children’s Hospice South West.
This is the busiest and most important time of the year for Reg Hendy and his family. His reward for a year of hard work and careful management of his trees will be strong sales, happy customers and a sustainable business that is kind to the environment – and that is a gift to us all.