It’s the first weekend of December. In between shopping and attending all those holiday-themed events, many of us will be picking out our Christmas trees.
If you’ve driven around Raleigh recently, you’ve probably already noticed Christmas tree markets popping up here and there, near churches, schools, or busy shopping centers. Getting a tree from any of these spots is a good choice, as many source their trees from local farmers.
But if you’re new to the area, crave an adventure or some family fun, or just want to make sure your money stays as local as possible, here are a few places we recommend heading for that perfect fir or pine.
For a fail-safe tree-finding experience, head to the State Farmers Market. Christmas tree farmers from all over the state bring their finest firs and pines for you to peruse. Naturally, there’s a huge variety of trees, sizes, and prices. (1201 Agriculture Street, Raleigh)
The family-owned store and Raleigh mainstay’s “Turn-Key Christmas Service” is unmatched. Drop in and pick out your tree, sourced from the North Carolina mountains. All the trees are helpfully suspended by ropes, so you can spin them around to get a true sense of their shape. If you bring your own Christmas tree stand, the staff will install your tree and load it in your car. They’ll even deliver your tree directly to your home and set it up wherever you’d like. If you’re in by 11 a.m., you’re likely to get your tree delivered on the same day, but expect to pay a little more for all this service. (707 Semart Drive, Raleigh)
Tucked back in the acres of farmland and forest that N.C. State’s Ag and Life Sciences students use for research is Back Achers Farm. The homegrown business with the playful name has been going strong since 1983, when Frank Barick—a lifelong environmentalist who worked at the N.C. State Wildlife Commission—planted his first pine trees on his family’s tract of land off Inwood Road.
Frank is now ninety-seven, and his son, Brad, has taken over the family business. No new trees have been planted since 2009, so the selection is a little slim this year. Still, you can choose from a variety of 3-to-15-foot tall trees for $15–$75, and Back Achers offers Fraser Firs up to nine feet tall for $8–$9 a foot. Back Achers will be back strong in the years to come, with plans to plant several hundred new trees each year, beginning February 2017. (4533 Inwood Road, Raleigh)
2. Boyce Farms
Though it’s still in Raleigh, Boyce Farms is a bit of a hike past the airport. Once you’ve made it off of 540, the beautiful fall colors along the wooded country roads make it worth the haul. If you’re feeling adventurous or are looking for some family fun, this is the place for you. You can bring a handsaw (no chains) and cut your own Christmas tree, or just choose one that the farmers will cut for you. You can grab your favorite and go, too. Fraser Firs cost between $20–$102 and go as tall as ten feet. Choose-and-cut trees range from $25 to $75. (2813 Mount Vernon Church Road, Raleigh)
If you want to support a great local initiative, buy your Christmas tree from Raleigh City Farm. For the fourth year, N.C. State veterinary student Keith Chesnutt, who grew up in the North Carolina mountains just outside of Boone, supplies an old friend’s Fraser firs to Raleigh City Farm. Chesnutt helps pay for school by selling the High Country Firs, and a portion of the sales benefits Raleigh City Farm, a win-win situation all around. Fraser firs cost between $30 and $130, and you can get them up to eleven feet tall. (800 N. Blount Street, Raleigh)