Locally grown Christmas trees bringing the holiday spirit to life

Co-written by Austin Page

Barbara and George Stevens own and operate “The Stevens’ Christmas Trees”, a lot full of real Christmas trees located right on Hwy 107 in Sylva. This year’s lot is a continuation of 35 years of selling Christmas trees to the locals of Sylva and it’s surrounding areas.

George & Barbara Stephen (on the right) with one of their customers. Photo by Kevin McNamara.

The reason that they continue to do this after so many years, for Barbara is to “see the excitement on the kids’ faces.” Every year the same families come to the Stevens to get their tree, and when their kids grow up they will bring their families to continue the tradition.

The Huffmans are a family that has been coming to The Stevens for the past 5 years. Mr.Huffman let his two younger kids pick the tree that they wanted and then Mr. Stevens tied it to the top of their car for them.

Stevens got into the business when he married Barbara, whose father owned a tree farm and a logging company when she was younger. But she said, “eventually the logging business just died out,” so her father started selling Christmas trees. This year, between Nov. 20 and Dec. 17, they all but lived on their lot next to Zaxby’s, selling trees from 9 in the morning until 9 at night.

The Steven’s Family Tree Lot with 150 of their own trees. Photo by Austin Page.

Every year in total they sell around 550 trees, 150 of their own and 400 from other local farms. The price of the trees ranges from $50 to $80 depending on the quality of the tree. Each tree takes years to grow, approximately a foot per year, and are handpicked and judged by the Stevens.

The Stevens have a large competitor for their customers — plastic trees. Every year countless families around the country switch from a real tree to a plastic tree, and that includes people in Sylva. People see a plastic tree as a more fiscally responsible investment as it lasts for more than just one year and is comparable in price to natural ones. The trees on display at Walmart range from $80 to $300.

Barbara Stevens says that there is really no contest between the two, however, as “buying a real tree gives the family a tradition … that’s why we have the trees in rows like a tree farm so that they can go through the rows and pick their tree.” Not to mention the smell of evergreen from the tree bringing the smell of Christmas into your home.

The other side of the argument would be that having a real tree in your home strung with lights is a fire hazard, but George Stevens says that “the plastic ones are more likely to be fire hazards than a real tree.”

Kevin McNamara show us how to choose a good tree based on the advices from Barbara and Steven Stevens. 

To make the deal even sweeter the Stevens tie the trees to the roof of their customers’ cars and saw off the bottom, this is called a fresh cut and is to allow them to get water much more effectively than if they left the bottom layer of sap on the trees. They also cut off the bottom bough branches to allow an easier set up in a tree stand in your home, and they use these boughs to make wreaths which you can buy for $15. This process takes Barbara 20 minutes from cutting the trees to a complete wreath or 5 minutes if the bows are left over from other trees because according to Barbara “nothing of the trees goes to waste.”

While The Stevens’ Christmas Trees lot is done for this season, they are sure to return next season for anyone searching for a locally grown, real Christmas tree.