In yesterday’s post, I wrote about my visit to Ian’s Evergreen Plantation and Cedar Hill Berry Farm. Today I visited four more cut-your-own Christmas tree farms: Fallowfield Tree Farm, Thomas Tree Farm, Hillcrest Tree Farm, and Briggs Trees. Read on to find out more about each one (including pictures at the bottom of the post).
Fallowfield Tree Farm is a great option for people who want to stick closer to the centre of Ottawa. Located on Fallowfield Rd. in Stittsville, the farm is about 15 minutes west of downtown Ottawa. It has several activities for visitors, including a bonfire, hay rides, a couple farm animals, and a Santa who greets visitors in the parking lot. One word of warning – be careful about petting the goat, or your hand will smell like mine did for the rest of the day (even with the use of Purell)! I think it was a billy goat, because female goats usually don’t give off such a strong odour. But I can never resist petting animals, so I didn’t mind – just be aware if you go!
My next stop was Thomas Tree Farm in North Gower (south of Ottawa). I think I picked the wrong day to visit, because the place was a zoo! I later found out that many of the visitors were employees of Farm Boy (the Ottawa-based grocery store chain). Each year, Farm Boy buys all of its employees a Christmas tree at Thomas Tree Farm, and the employees come pick their tree up on the same day – which happened to be today.
Thomas Tree Farm is a good option if you want to feel a bit like you’re at a maple sugar bush. The main activity area is located in a forested area with many mature trees, and there are a couple wood buildings that will remind you of sugar shacks. There is a bonfire area, and free hot chocolate and homemade cookies after you’ve cut your tree. There are also wagon rides out to the tree plantation and a nice path through the woods if you prefer to walk. They also sell wreaths in one of the buildings, and provide horse-drawn sleigh rides on weekends if there is snow (which there wasn’t today).
Also in North Gower is Hillcrest Tree Farm. This place is perfect if you’re looking for more of a traditional farm experience. From the moment I arrived, it just felt so peaceful and quiet – fewer people, more space, and best of all, two beautiful Belgian horses to pet and admire in the barn. When there is snow, the same horses provide sleigh rides for visitors. Today there was no snow, which meant the horses were hanging out in their stalls and were happy to sniff the hands of strangers (although they didn’t seem too crazy about the goat smell on my hand from earlier in the day!)
One thing I really like about Hillcrest is the many decorative touches throughout the property. For example, there are presents under a big evergreen beside the house, and there’s a cute Santa sign with a sleigh in front of it. There’s also a clean and bright barn where you can select a pre-cut tree and purchase drinks and food. The whole place is just pretty, and it reminds me a lot of Cedar Hill Berry Farm, another smaller operation that is set on a farm.
My last stop was Briggs Trees near Cumberland (Ottawa East). By this point I was starting to feel like I’ve probably seen all there is to see with Christmas tree farms in Ottawa. But Briggs Trees turned out to be something quite unique. I would classify them as an “old-time” cut-your-own experience. There’s no tractor to get your tree (as far as I can tell), so you have to walk back there yourself and haul back whatever you find. And here’s the best part: you actually have to walk through the forest to find your tree. The trees are planted here and there – no rows – just a mix of trees in widely varying stages of growth. In fact, many of the trees are now too big to harvest. It must be amazing when there’s a foot or two of snow on the ground, and you have to stomp through the forest to find your perfect specimen. The only problem is that it’s tempting to pick a tree that is too large for your house! I smiled when I overheard one family discussing whether their favourite tree was too big for their house – it was almost double the father’s height, so I think yes!
Briggs also has also has the added bonus of a large gift shop and an antique store. They have a lot of really interesting old prints and paintings, and a nice selection of Christmas items. And of course, they also sell wreaths and hot chocolate.
Besides being appealing for families, I think Briggs is a great place for couples looking for a more romantic tree-cutting experience. I saw quite a few younger couples there – more than at other tree farms. While hay rides with the kids are fun, it is also great to just walk back to the woods with your partner, looking for the perfect tree on a cold day, holding hands through your mitts.
This will probably be the last of my Christmas tree farm posts, other than Kings Creek Trees and Ornamentals, which I’m visiting next week for one of their popular wreath workshops. Kings Creek doesn’t have cut-your-own trees, but they do sell Christmas trees from their family farm in Pennsylvania. They also have a Christmas store with ornaments and Christmas cards. I will be writing about my visit, so stay tuned for that post.
In the meantime, are there any great Christmas tree farms that I’ve missed? Feel free to add them in the comments section, or email me at lara<at>agritourismguide<dot>ca.