Four students from the 4-H Forestry club traveled to Brewer’s Christmas Tree Farm in Midway Dec. 17 to learn about the behind-the-scenes operations of running a tree farm, as a special holiday activity hosted by the University of Georgia’s Extension Office in Hinesville.
Brewer’s, a local staple, has been a family tradition for over 30 years, according to the farm’s website. As well as allowing individuals to choose their own Christmas tree, the farm offers a Christmas Shop with goodies and wares to buy inside. On weekends, Brewer’s offer hayrides around the farm and fields.
The trees offered at Brewer’s are either a Leyland Cypress variety, or a Virginia Pine. Each tree is different, but “great,” said owner Paschal Brewer.
For the benefit of the young foresters, Brewer launched into lengthy detail about the genealogy and makeup of the three different trees on his lot. He dived into their history, explaining that the Leyland Cypress was a hybrid of two different trees, the Monterey cypress and the Alaskan Yellow Cedar.
“The hybrid does not contain any seeds,” Brewer said. “So it is only reproduced by rooted cuttings.” The trees are difficult to root, he continued, so he uses a chemical identical to the tree’s makeup to ensure the tree roots each year.
To enhance the experience, the 4-H’ers were invited to grab gloves and a saw to cut down one of the Christmas trees. After everyone grabbed their supplies and a wagon, the group marched over to the rows of trees to choose one of their own.
First, Brewer showed the group how to choose a Christmas tree on a lot—taking into consideration height, fullness, and health of the tree.
“Most ceilings are about 8-feet tall,” Brewer said. “Usually, don’t get a tree that’s taller than 7-feet.”
After a lengthy lesson and rapid-fire questions from University of Georgia Extension agent Ashley Hoppers and 4-H agent Kasey Bozeman, the students finally selected their tree and got a lesson in how to cut it down.
“Apply constant contact to the trunk, and saw, not hack,” Brewer said. “The blade works in both directions, so you don’t need to hack at it like an axe.”
Each 4-H’er took turns at sawing down the tree, and eventually between the four of them, the tree came tumbling down.
The students then learned how to properly package and care for the live tree in the home, even getting the chance to shake the loose needles and package the tree in netting.
The group made the decision that the tree they cut down would be given to a needy family down the road for Christmas, Hoppers said. The group loaded up the tree and drove down the road to the Brewer’s neighbor, where they gifted the tree after the trip.