A u-cut Christmas tree farm out near the Alberni Valley Regional Airport has new owners—and a new name.
Alberni Christmas Trees, a 25-acre farm located on Coleman Road, was previously known as Tara’s Christmas Trees. The farm was purchased in July of this year by Cory and Kris Gunter-Smith, who just moved to the Alberni Valley from Red Deer, Alberta.
The couple was looking for a change, and the opportunity “popped up at the right time,” said Cory.
“Cory’s parents retired here,” said Kris. “It started out as a good thing for us to do on the side, to have the kids near their grandparents.”
“We were hoping to have it as a side job,” said Cory. “Right now, it’s full time.”
Kris describes herself as a Christmas fanatic.
“I think when [Cory] told me the news, I was watching one of those cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies—in January,” she laughed.
Alberni Christmas Trees officially opened to the public on Nov. 28, and business has been steady since then. With COVID-19, the business has a few precautions in place. Visitors are provided with a sanitized saw and cart so they can explore the farm’s selection of douglas firs, grand firs, noble firs and white pines, but the Gunter-Smiths also encourage people to bring their own tools.
The prices and trees have stayed the same, but for this year the farm is no longer offering complimentary hotdogs and marshmallows around the campfire.
“We ask people to keep their distance and stay with your family group,” said Kris. “One of the benefits is we’re still outside. And it’s 25 acres, so it’s easy to maintain a safe distance.”
The farm is open seven days a week until Dec. 22. The hours are 10 a.m. to dusk on weekends and 11 a.m. to dusk on weekdays.
For the Gunter-Smiths, running a Christmas tree farm is an entirely new experience.
“It’s a lot more work than the cheesy Christmas movies let on,” Kris laughed.
But throughout it all, Kris says she hasn’t lost her love for the holiday season.
“We’re witnessing Christmas memories,” she said. “It’s the greatest job ever.”
Alberni Christmas Trees isn’t the only place in the Alberni Valley where you can find u-cut Christmas trees. Tom Verbrugge also runs Tom’s Trees out past the Alberni Valley Regional Airport (just follow the “Tom’s Trees” signs). The farm is open every weekend until Christmas from 10 a.m. until dusk. Christmas trees are a family business, as Tom’s son also owns and operates the Whiskey Creek U-Cut operation just outside of Port Alberni.
Port Alberni resident Dani Frances is in the process of purchasing the former ADSS Christmas Tree farm, also on Coleman Road. Frances has been grooming the trees this year as she waits for the transfer of ownership to be completed.
But the u-cut experience isn’t for everyone. If you prefer to pick up a pre-cut Christmas tree, they can be found at Naesgaard’s Farm and Market on River Road, Save-On-Foods at 10th Avenue and Redford Street and other retail locations in Port Alberni.