What does a self-professed ‘Christmas fanatic’ do to make Christmas even more fantastic?
How about a move to Vancouver Island to own and operate their own Christmas tree farm?
Alberni Christmas Trees, a 25-acre farm located near the Alberni Valley Regional Airport, 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 is the one who 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.”
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