Published 9:48 am Wednesday, November 25, 2015
By KIM BUNCH HOGGARD
MENOLA – Ronald and Alicia Gatling and their family were the very first customers at Dawson’s Christmas Tree Farm four years ago. Every year since, the Gatlings have bought at least one tree from the farm.
2015 was no exception as they were the first customers on the first day the tree farm was officially open for business this past Saturday (Nov. 21) The Gatlings chose two trees, one for upstairs and one for downstairs and vowed to tell their friends about their experience.
It has been widely thought that you have to be in the mountains or high altitudes to grow conifers that are typically used as Christmas trees. Gene Dawson has dispelled that rumor completely.
Right here in Hertford County he grows the trees and gives families the experience of finding the tree(s) they like and cutting down their own trees locally.
Dawson also takes the children out on a makeshift “train” that he has made from plastic barrels. The ride is through a menagerie of hundreds of trees of several different species and sizes he grows on his farm, located on Blowe Road near the Menola community. The whole family then walks through the trees and chooses their own special tree.
The family assists Dawson in cutting the tree and helping him load it on a cart and pulling it out of the field. The tree is put on a shaker that removes debris that has settled in the tree then wrapped with a net and loaded to be taken home.
Dawson’s wife Shirley and his daughter, Tammy, are also a huge part of the family business. They make beautiful wreathes from the cuttings left over from tree pruning, kissing balls, and ornaments.
They provide hot chocolate and play Christmas carols amid the wonderful aromas of the holidays. Santa and Mrs. Claus are also on site to listen to your Christmas wishes. The Clauses also provide photo opportunities for children to pose with them. They also provide the unique option for you to have your pet/pets in your holiday photograph. This experience is a wonderful holiday tradition to start.
The Gatlings provide a perfect example of how the holiday season can be kicked off with a family adventure. The tree farm excursion is fun and educational for all.