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Farm helps deck halls for Perdue

POSTED: December 11, 2007 7:19 a.m.

The expedition to bring home the perfect Christmas tree is a long-standing tradition in many American homes, and it’s no different at the governor’s mansion.

Don Nichols, executive landscape manager for the Georgia Building Authority, has the task of picking out 21 of the state’s best-looking trees to haul back to the Atlanta mansion and decorate in time for the governor’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Sunday.

Nichols gathers trees after Thanksgiving each year from several farms around the state. On Tuesday, he loaded four trees onto his truck from the Kinsey Family Farm in Forsyth County. Andy Kinsey and his family donated the trees to the governor’s mansion this year and presented three trees to the governor last year.

"Our farm has become a pretty big tradition for a lot of families ... so this will kind of be our tradition. We donate a couple of trees to the governor’s mansion," Kinsey said.

Kinsey has run the farm off Jot Em Down Road with his brother and parents since 1981, and the family has been cultivating Christmas trees since 2002.

He said the farm regularly has anywhere between 18,000 to 20,000 trees growing on it, 1,500 of which are Christmas trees that families can choose and cut.

"It’s very entertaining to watch people try to find the perfect tree," Kinsey said.

Nichols selected a 17-foot Frasier Fur from the Kinsey Farm, as well as two 10-foot Naylor’s Blue Cypress trees and an 11-foot Leland Cypress.

Kinsey said the Frasier Fur was freshly cut from a family farm in North Carolina.

"It was phenomenal, it was a big tree," he said. "I can’t wait to see it decorated."

And Nichols said he has about five days and eight staff members to help him get the Governor’s mansion decorated inside and out before the public convenes on the residence Sunday for the Christmas tree lighting at 6:30 p.m.

Nichols said three of the Kinsey Farm trees will be placed outside near the exits, while the largest tree from the farm will be placed in the mansion ballroom. He said the tree will be designated as the Toys for Tots tree.

"Every Christmas, a tree is decorated for Toys for Tots, and anyone can bring in presents for kids who might not get anything," Nichols said.

The four trees from the Kinsey Family Farm will be in good company at the Governor’s mansion. A 42-foot Blue Spruce will grace the lawn of the mansion and will be adorned with hundreds of ornaments and 30,000 lights, Nichols said.

He added that the 42-foot tree was planted in 1973, and was cut from a yard in Conyers.

Nichols said that Christmastime is a special time at the Governor’s mansion.

"It’s real nice," he said. "There’s a lot of people that come through here. It’s real friendly and it’s fun."



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