Family farm is part of many family traditions

POULSBO — The Jones Tree Farm is as much a family tradition to Bill Jones as putting up a Christmas tree is to other families.

The 20-year-old operation was started by his parents; his nieces help plant seedlings every spring; his sister’s sheep greet visitors at the farm’s entrance; and even his dogs fill their time following him around the u-cut tree farm.

“They even sometimes help people find their trees,” he said with a chuckle pointing toward his yellow Lab as she bounded off through the woods.

As the holidays approach, Jones is once again readying for the nearly 3,000 families that visit the farm each year, looking for the perfect place to hang twinkle lights, tinsel and candy canes.

The majority of customers come from Poulsbo, Silverdale and Bainbridge Island, but Jones said he’s had visitors from Chimacum, Port Townsend, Seattle and even one who used to cut a tree and take it to California every year.

Official holiday events kick off at the farm Nov. 29, but Jones said tree sales typically start the week before Thanksgiving. He added that with proper care his trees, which are grown with no pesticides or fertilizer, can last weeks.

“You can’t get any fresher than still in the ground,” explained his mother Sylvia Jones.

In fact, the business sold its first family Christmas tree of the season last week. The evergreen went to a military family which is readying for their father’s deployment just before the holidays. Bill Jones said he usually gets a few military families buying trees at odd times because of deployments during the season.

“But that’s the great part about us as opposed to a tree lot,” Bill Jones pointed out. “The trees are always here.”

Visitors to the Jones Tree Farm have about 60 acres of Noble, Douglas, Grand and Shasta Firs to browse. In all, Bill Jones estimated the land holds about 40,000 trees in various stages of growth at any given time. The farm supplies saws and a lift to bring cut trees back to the big red barn for baling. All a family has to do is pick out the perfect tree, which may or may not be the easy part.

“Sometimes people can spend hours and hours,” Bill Jones said with a laugh.

“We have a lot of families who really seem to enjoy themselves out here,” added Sylvia Jones.

One unique service that Jones Tree Farm offers is tagging.

Families can come out to the farm and choose their perfect tree as early as October. Instead of cutting the tree they can tag it with a “sold” ribbon that indicates they intend to cut the tree at a later date. There is no extra charge for this service, all Jones asks is families call before they come to tag their tree.

“Some people even like to decorate their trees while they’re still out in the field,” Sylvia Jones said of the tagging service.

Besides the experience of choosing a tree out in the woods, Jones Tree Farm also offers holiday events:

• Local Hands, food, craft and gift fair — Nov. 29-30 & Dec. 1, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Kids Days with Santa — Dec. 7-8, noon to 4 p.m.

• Horse drawn wagon rides — Nov. 29 & weekends Nov. 30 - Dec. 23, noon to 4 p.m.

• Tractor trailer rides — Nov. 29-Dec. 23, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The farm also accepts donations for Toys for Tots and offers military discounts.

Jones Tree Farm, 1795 NE Sawdust Hill Road, is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (360) 779-7840.

Christmas Tree Handling:

• Whether it’s fresh cut or from a lot, a tree will seal itself with sap once it’s cut. Make a fresh cut of about one inch across the bottom and put it into water immediately at home. If you’re not quite ready for the tree inside, it will typically stay fresh in a bucket of water outside without a fresh cut due to cold winter weather.

• A tree that has not been sheared will stay fresher longer than one that has.

• Keep your tree stand reservoir full at all times and remember that a tree will drink more water at first so watch the reservoir. There is little merit to adding anything to the water to make the tree last longer, growers say “more water” is the best additive.

• Make sure the tree is secure in the stand and you’ve chosen a location far enough from heaters, fireplaces and other sources of heat, which could dry it out more quickly. Be sure candles and other burning objects are kept far from the tree as well.

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