It’s a scene in comedic cinema among the top of the list when it comes to holiday movies. Clark Griswold packs up his family and takes them out to the middle of nowhere for the annual cutting of the Christmas tree in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
Of course, in National Lampoon’s genius, the Griswolds forgot the saw.
No worries, though, if you do the same in Long Valley, as the options for cut-your-own tree farms are plentiful and the ownership is the same as its customer base: all family.
It’s the family feel that keeps each farm a late fall destination for so many residents, and one that doesn’t have the overbearing circus-like atmosphere.
“We’re seeing the same families coming back each year,” said Paula Hays, who owns Rolling Green Farms on Hacklebarney Road with her husband, Pete. “We’re also seeing new faces looking for their new tradition to begin, too.”
Rolling Green Farms has been a family affair since long before the first tree was planted. Hays’ father bought the land in 1949 and operated it as a working dairy farm until it was bought another farmer in the early 1980’s. That farmer went bankrupt, Hays said, and the family couldn’t bear to watch the farm go under.
So, in 1994, the Hays family bought the farm back. A few years later, Pete Hays planted the first Christmas tree.
“We thought it was a crazy idea,” Paula Hays said. “But we’ve been selling (trees) for eight years now.”
The family tradition continues elsewhere in Long Valley, as the Plut’s Christmas Tree Farm on Flocktown Road bustles each season with a full-service operation.
“The past week has been very nice and we’re doing very well,” owner Caroline Plut said, which is a change from previous years.
Due to Super Storm Sandy in 2012, sales were down and certainly affected each farm’s operation, Plut said.
“The storms definitely affected us in the past years,” Plut said.
Hays agreed, saying sales were way down last year in the wake of New Jersey’s most devastating storm.
But dry conditions and mild temperatures, for the most part, have brought tree-lovers out this season and farm owners are hoping to make up for last year’s slump.
Rolling Green Farm is located at 61 Hacklebarney Road and open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hot chocolate is complimentary and customers can cut their own Blue Spruce, White Spruce, or Norway Spruce. Fresh cut Fraser Firs are also available and trees are $50 regardless of size.
Plut’s Christmas Tree Farm is open 8 a.m. to dusk Thursday through Sunday and offer all styles of tree. Employees cut the tree for customers along with bundling it and tying it to the car. Trees are priced at $40 for five-feet tall and $7 for each additional foot.
Other cut your own tree farms in Washington Township include:
Fleming Farms: 55 Kings Highway, flemingfarms.com
Penwell Mountain Farm: Pleasant Grove Road, Port Murray section of Washington Township
Where do you go in the area to pick out a Christmas tree?