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Choose a good Christmas tree and make it last
Meet Andy Kinsey and his family Christmas tree farm off Jot-em Down road
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Andy Kinsey is a second-generation farmer at the Kinsey Family Farm on Jot Em Down Road in north Forsyth County.

BY LAYNE SALIBA

lsaliba@gainesvilletimes.com

When it comes to Christmas trees, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who knows more about the holiday symbol than Andy Kinsey. As co-owner of Kinsey Family Farm, Kinsey helps oversee everything that goes on at the farm, and around this time of year, it’s all about Christmas trees.

Kinsey said people were already calling the farm during the first week of November, asking if trees were available. Since Thanksgiving came early this year, he said people were eager to get their trees in their homes.

But from his point of view, that just means people will have to take better care of their trees this year.

“The long and the short of it is, we always tell people, ‘Listen, you just cut the tree off from the roots, it’s dead,’” said Kinsey, whose farm is in its 15th year off Jot Em Down Road in north Forsyth County. “They can just preserve the death process for as long as they can get away with.”

That’s why Kinsey said the Kinsey Family Farm has its trees in water or in the ground almost at all times. And that’s his first bit of advice he gives to people, too.

“Get them off your car and get them in water.” Kinsey said. “You can either put them in a bucket of water and leave them outside or you can bring them inside and get them standing up, but you have to get them back in water.”

Kinsey’s pre-cut trees come from North Carolina and Virginia. As soon as they arrive at the farm, Kinsey said they cut about an inch off the bottom and then put them in what they call “the swamp.” It’s a holding area, covered by a roof and surrounded by a black screen, both of which keep wind and sun off the trees.

As soon as “the swamp” is filled with about 700 trees, they fill it with about 6 inches of water, and it stays that way at all times. Kinsey said “you’d be amazed how much water they drink.”

The most popular tree every year is the Fraser fir, which is what Kinsey keeps in “the swamp.”

“Fraser firs, that’s the No. 1 seller by far nationwide,” Kinsey said. “It’s got that nostalgic look. It’s got the deep green, strong branches that are super fragrant, it fills in beautifully, it tapers perfectly.”

In the field, the Kinsey Family Farm has choose-and-cut trees. There are Leyland cypress, which oftentimes aren’t thought of as Christmas trees, and Carolina sapphires.

“Hands-down, people who come to get trees buy Frasers,” Kinsey said. “The first big wave is always Fraser firs. And then after that, the next big weekend wave is out of the field.”

Kinsey said he’d probably have a Leyland cypress in his home this year. He likes them because of the way they decorate. Although he said you have to use lighter ornaments because the branches aren’t as strong, the lights can be tucked inside the tree easily, giving it a “gorgeous” glow.

The Carolina sapphires are favorites for the same reasons. They’re the first ones to sell out each year, he said. They have more of a blue-green color as opposed to the Leyland cypress or Fraser firs.

“People who get these are furious with us when we sell out,” Kinsey said.

One of the major reasons Kinsey grows and carries these trees is because of the taper he’s able to give them. That’s one of the most important things people look at when choosing a tree, he said. The second most important aspect is the fullness. Kinsey said he trains a few people to help him go around the farm and taper the trees each year to make sure they all have the iconic Christmas tree shape.

“You want that sort of cone-shape look,” Kinsey said. “People seem to really navigate toward taper first … After that, it really is just personal preference — or what I really should say is it’s whatever your child picks out.”

Once you get your tree home, Kinsey said apart from making sure it has water at all times, you need to make sure it’s set up in a place that has minimal sunlight. He said it’s also important to close any vents pointing toward the tree as heat will cause dehydration.

Kinsey’s first load of trees came on Nov. 15 and more trucks have been coming every week since. He said the biggest weekend used to be the first weekend in December, but over the years, that has changed. That same weekend is when they start slowing down now, so if you still don’t have your tree, now might be the time to go grab one.

“The first weekend in December, it’s done,” Kinsey said. “You’ve sold 80 percent of your trees.”

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