ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) In Roanoke, there’s a Christmas tree farm where you wouldn’t quite expect. It’s in someone’s backyard.
“They're surprised that we're in the city of Roanoke and sometimes we get calls from people who are on the way and say we think we're about there but this looks like a neighborhood. My father started it. He started growing trees in the early 1960s and then we started selling trees in the front yard in 1974,” explained John Hamill, owner of the Hamill Christmas Tree Farm.
Being a farmer requires a lot of patience in the first place. But being a Christmas tree farmer, requires a whole other level of patience.
“It takes six to 12 years to grow a tree so you have to be willing to work that long before you make any money. And you make that money in one month of the year and you've got to make that last,” explained John.
And despite what you might think, there's something for Christmas tree farmers to do all throughout the year starting in January with a fresh batch of seedlings.
“I go around where every tree has been cut with a hoe and clear off the land so that when we plant nothing gets into the hole. And we do planting between February and May,” John said.
John says he usually plants about a thousand trees every year.
“After that's done we do some fertilizing in the fir and a little bit of spraying so the weeds don't take over the recently planted trees and so the insects don't damage the trees. And starting in late June we have to prune the trees and sheer them and that can go into November,” he explained.
The cool thing about being a Christmas tree farmer is the Christmas spirit never quite leaves you.
“Sometimes in the summer, say I'm mowing between the trees, Christmas carols are going through my head,” John said.
Which means I guess there is truth to that saying, "It's Christmas in July."