Bluebird Tree Farm to open on Thursday

Staff members at the Bluebird Christmas Tree Farm on Brushy Valley Road work on some of the pre-cut Fraser firs that will be available for sale this season. At top left is owner Leo Collins; bottom left is Darryl Long, and on the right is Johnathan Raney. (photo:G. Chambers Williams III )
Anderson County’s Bluebird Christmas Tree Farm plans to open tomorrow (Thursday, Nov. 18), with plenty of trees available – fresh and pre-cut – just in time for this year’s holiday season.

Owner Leo Collins said late last week that the farm has a selection of about 350 trees growing in its fields that are ready for this season, and has shipped in more than 1,200 Fraser firs from tree farms in cooler areas.

The Fraser fir does not grow well in Anderson County, so all of those must come from cooler mountain areas, he said. The imported Frasers all will have been cut and transported no earlier than Nov. 10.

They are mostly priced from $55 to $75, for trees up to seven-and-a-half-feet tall, but there will be a few taller ones that go for more, Collins said.

The trees in the field, which customers can cut themselves or ask to be cut, include Leyland cypress, Virginia pines and Norway spruce, he said. They are priced at $75 or $80, depending on height, he said.

This season, the farm and its seasonal gift shop will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays until Christmas Eve, Collins said, although the farm could be forced to close earlier if it runs out of trees.

For the past 39 years, Collins has run the tree farm at 985 Brushy Valley Road in the Heiskell community to serve as a launch pad for many families’ holiday celebrations.

His pre-cut trees are imported from the mountains of East Tennessee and western North Carolina for sale in his big tent. Staff members will wrap the trees and help people load them in or on top of their vehicles.

“The Fraser firs are our most-popular variety,” he said, “We get them from the Mountain City area. It’s just too warm to grow the firs here.”

The farm has about 15 total employees working for the season helping to wrap and trim the trees for people to take home. About 12 of those are on duty at a time, Collins said.

There’s also a gift shop on the farm, which Collins had built nine years ago. It sells some decorating items, including fresh mistletoe and tree skirts, but mostly people buy the locally produced jams, jellies and honey the shop has on display.

Pints of jams and “butters,” such as pumpkin, strawberry and blueberry butter, are $6 each. Jam and jelly flavors include cherry, strawberry, peach, pear, blueberry, strawberry, elderberry, blackberry and cinnamon-pear.

There’s even one called “Traffic Jam,” which includes strawberries, rhubarb and raspberries.

This year, Collins even has an electric train running inside the shop, on a display just below the ceiling.

Collins said he originally bought the farm with the idea of growing Christmas trees for people to come and cut their own, a dream he’d had since he was a child.

Over the years, he has dabbled in other businesses on the farm, including a wholesale nursery, grapevines and honeybees.

“They all made money, but they were a lot of work and were not as much fun as Christmas trees,” he said.

His children and grandkids all worked in the business at various times, but are no longer involved, he said.

Collins’ daughter, Carolyn McKenzie, is the author of a top-selling holiday book, called “Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas.”