TRENTON —Northern Maine farmers who expanded their farm to the Acadia region opened for business this month, selling Christmas trees and other holiday décor.
The Mitchell Family Christmas Tree Farm was established in St. Agatha in 2011 on a 168-acre farm by Brett, Regina, John and Elean Mitchell. The trees being sold at 450 Bar Harbor Road in Trenton are the newly mature ones from their original crop.
“They’re just coming now,” Elean Mitchell said. “We don’t have any 8- or 10-footers yet.”
Brett Mitchell said that the company plants 8,000 saplings, which come from western Maine and Canada, in St. Agatha annually. He said that 90 percent of the planted trees from this year’s harvest were salable.
“It takes six or seven years for the trees to be ready to harvest,” he said. “Each year, we plant more, and we’re at the beginning of the rotation.”
The Mitchells planted their first crop in Trenton in 2014, but those trees are not ready to be sold yet. When they are ready, the Trenton location will focus on choose-and-cut trees while offering the precut trees from St. Agatha. There are 1,500 trees growing on the 20-acre farm in Trenton.
The Mitchells struggled in the first year in Trenton, where the soil was not as forgiving as in St. Agatha and the weather was not cooperative.
“We haven’t had much water in the summer, which was difficult for planting,” Elean Mitchell said. “The last few years have taken off better than the first year.”
The farming of Christmas trees is a labor of love. Caring for thousands of trees requires close attention to their health, pruning, shearing and fertilizing year-round.
“It’s a full-time job for a big farm,” Brett Mitchell said. “My wife and I work there six days a week.”
Eventually, the company hopes to sell trees wholesale from the St. Agatha farm to retailers in New England, but so far they lack the inventory.
The farm also is involved in an initiative called “Trees for Troops.” Customers at the Mitchell Family Christmas Tree Farm can make a tax-deductible donation of a Christmas tree to be sent to a military family. The Mitchells donated 20 trees to the cause this year.
“This is the first year we’ve sent trees,” Elean Mitchell said. “Up until now, we’ve only been sending money.”
Asked about why they prefer natural to artificial trees, Brett Mitchell said,
“They smell nice, [and] they’re not made in China.”