In all the years I’ve lived in Ottawa (going on 18 years – how time flies), I’ve never been to a Christmas tree farm. Which is a shame, because Ottawa has some really great cut-your-own Christmas tree farms, as I found out today when I visited Ian’s Evergreen Plantation and Cedar Hill Berry Farm. Even if you’re not looking to buy a Christmas tree, it’s worth going out to one of the local plantations to enjoy the festivities and natural surroundings (and maybe buy some other goods for sale – such as wreaths, hot chocolate, and preserves).
Our first stop was Ian’s Evergreen Plantation in Ashton. This is a very large tree plantation, with a wide variety of trees to select from (pine, spruce, cedar, and fir). They offer a large number of activities for visitors, including wagon rides, hot chocolate, campfires, and a rink and sliding hill (weather permitting).
They also offer a couple of unique activities. One is their herd of live reindeer, which are kept in a fenced area beside the main activity area. The reindeer are quite friendly, and were happy to be petted by the children lined up against the fence. Ian’s Evergreen Plantation also offers hiking through the property, including a trail around a lovely small lake with a log cabin on it, and a small bridge crossing a creek. As you walk, you’re surrounded by rows of Christmas trees, some ready to be harvested, and some still very small. If you prefer to get a ride (and you’ll probably need one if you cut a large tree), there are tractors with wagons coming by every few minutes.
About 30 minutes west of Ian’s Evergreen Plantation, you’ll find Cedar Hill Berry Farm in Pakenham. As their name suggests, Cedar Hill Berry Farm offers berry picking in the summer. But they also have cut-your-own Christmas trees in the month before Christmas. Their operation is a little smaller than Ian’s Evergreen Plantation, and it has more of a “farm” feel to it. You drive down a long, narrow laneway to the farm, which opens up into a beautiful view of a covered bridge over Indian Creek. The area is very hilly and picturesque.
The first thing we saw when we arrived was the two Belgian horses hooked up to a wagon. For $2/person, Randy Mitchell offers wagon rides over the covered bridge and through the Christmas tree plantation. This is an experience not to be missed. I told Randy that they should offer full-day passes for the ride, because I could have taken that wagon ride over and over. I was very interested to hear that Randy also provides the wagon rides for Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush in the spring, and offers sleigh rides between Christmas and New Year’s at his farm in Middleville (south of Almonte). He gave me his phone number, but rather than put it on this blog, please contact me if you are interested (or email Cedar Hill Berry Farm or Fulton’s).
Cedar Hill Berry Farm also has a nice store where you can warm up and get a hot chocolate, cookies, or a hot dog. They also sell Christmas wreaths and their popular jams from the berry farm (some of the best jam I’ve ever had, by the way).
Outside, you can go cut your own tree in the plantation, and then take a wagon ride back to the main activity centre. You can also warm up beside the bonfire, and the kids can play on the sliding hill and straw play structure. If you want, you can also walk around the property, and enjoy the beautiful river and scenery.
Tomorrow I am hoping to visit some more Christmas tree farms, including Briggs Trees, Hillcrest Tree Farm, and Thomas Tree Farm. I don’t think I’ll be able to convince Gary to come with me this time, so I will be visiting on my own, as the mysterious person who is by herself, taking tons of pictures, and not buying a Christmas tree!