We are a family operation,” said Shelly Cumpstone of Winterberry Farm in Killingworth, CT. Shelly, her husband Peter and two sons own this farm and cut Christmas tree operation. Shelly’s and Peter’s parents help during the busy season. The fathers, ages 82 and 95, greet customers and hand out saws while the mothers, ages 83 and 89, collect the money. Since planting the first trees in 1984, the Cumpstones’ operation has grown to 14 acres. In 2011, they sold nearly 1,000 trees, 400 wreaths and 75 kissing balls.
This Christmas tree farm buys in seedlings and grows them on in nursery beds. The Cumpstones hoe an 8”deep trench and lay in two-year-old seedlings from Needlefast Evergreens and New Life Nursery of Michigan. After filling the trenches back in, Peter and Shelly stand up the trees and compress the soil around them to stand them up straight. The beds are mulched with wood chips to retain moisture in the soil and prevent weeds. Weeding is almost unnecessary by the second year because the trees shade the soil surface. The young trees get two years of special care including fertilizer and water before being hand-dug and field planted. [more]