MILTON, Del. – Delaware state officials are encouraging people to shop local when it comes to buying Christmas trees this holiday season.
There are more than 30 farmers in Delaware that specialize in growing a variety of Christmas trees ranging from different firs, pines and spruces.
“Buying local is a great way to get the freshest tree and support our Delaware growers,” said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. “You can have some old-fashioned family fun picking out the perfect tree and helping a Delaware-grown business at the same time.”
It was a busy year for Sposato's Pine Hollow Christmas Tree Farm in Milton, according to the farm's owner Fred Sposato.
Even though this local tree farm has had to compete with department stores that streamline the tree-buying process, continued community support is what keeps Sposato's running in its 28th year operating.
At the Milton farm having a tree loaded into her car was Elaine Bristowe of Lewes, who had returned from vacation earlier that morning but still made time to pick up a local tree.
Bristowe said the holidays just aren't the same without a real tree.
"It's always fun to walk around the tree farm and have the whole family with you,” said Bristowe. “You pick a tree and then they come cut it down, and we have a lot of memories doing that," the mother of four said.
More than just selling trees, Sposato's also launched a new children's charity project that has helped bring the community closer together.
“We have a living giving tree that we set up this year,” said Sposato of the donation project. “People really came out and helped us with that," he said.
But for another tree farm a few miles away, business hasn't been as great.
At the Brick Barn in Georgetown, owner Thelma Blaxall said people don't come to pick out trees the way they used to.
"We are open but we haven't had that many calls about what we're offering,” said Blaxall. “But I think it's probably due to the economy. People are using artificial trees," said the 85-year old tree farmer.
At Brick Barn, customers dig out and cut down their own trees for a unique outdoor experience. Despite a slow year in business, Blaxall isn't worried about the farm's future.
"I've seen some of these children grow up and they're bringing their children so it seems like this is intended for me to do," said Blaxall.