- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

MAGNOLIA, Miss. (AP) - Christmas Memories Tree Farm is 4,065 miles from the North Pole.

Despite the distance, Terry Pigott’s tree farm has become part of the face of Christmas in the southwest Mississippi.

To the farm’s fans, it’s not just about the trees it’s the whole experience.

“Families make a day of it. I see the same families year after year. I’m even seeing younger kids that have grown up and have their own families now come by. It’s becoming a Christmas tradition,” Pigott said.

First, guests to the farm are greeted by Pigott once they drive through the front gate. Christmas tunes are broadcast throughout the farm.

After being handed a saw, customers drive down one of the Christmas-themed roadways - Jingle Bell Drive and Sleigh Road are just two -turn right and enter a clearing where hundreds of the most mature of his trees are lined up row after row. Families park alongside the field, take their saws out to the field of trees and select the perfect cypress tree for their house or business.

There are hundreds of trees to select from, and finding one to fit isn’t a problem.

Pigott said staff will cut the trees down for customers, but most like to do it themselves. Pigott said customers appreciate the lack of urgency at his farm.

“There’s no rush. People appreciate that,” he said. “They can come out here and enjoy the day and take their time.”

The operation at the farm involves long-term planning. Trees are born from other trees, a branch is cut off, then propagated. Pigott puts the cutting into a cup, then a bigger pot, and finally into the field. There are four separate areas of differing maturity where the trees grow before being moved to another field.

In general, it takes 5-1/2 years for a tree to move to the final field, but that time frame depends on the variety of the tree.

Obensi cypresses grow faster and larger than others; Leyland cypress is a smaller breed.

Given that Christmas is once a year, folks appreciate Pigott’s farm but seldom contemplate the labor that goes into it.

“They are just seeing the fun part,” he said. “This farm may only be dedicated to one day, but what people don’t seem to understand is that it takes 364 days of the year to make it happen. People only see the fun part.”

After Christmas, Pigott said, he will be out and about walking down row after row of cypress, diligently examining their needles and branches.

Some years are better than others, Pigott said. Hurricanes can be the most harmful to the trees, and Pigott recalls what Katrina and other storms have done.

“The constant strong wind can knock the trees over, especially the smaller trees. If there’s a ton of rain, the ground will loosen and take down others. It’s a double threat,” he said.

Another frequent visitor, deer, has taught him to plant hundreds extra just in case.

Some folks have already visited the farm this month, but the farm will really begin to see its business kick off after Thanksgiving dinner has been served and families start gearing up for Christmas.

Having a real Christmas tree, which sells for $5 to $6 per foot, is a much more satisfying ritual than using a plastic tree and that’s for many reasons, Pigott said.

“Number one, you are supporting a local business. Number two, you are getting a great product. But lastly, these trees aren’t being dumped in a landfill somewhere where it will take forever to dispose of-like a plastic tree does. These trees are circulated back into nature and are recycled naturally,” he said.

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If you go:

Christmas Memories Tree Farm is located at 1101 New Home Road in Magnolia.

It will be open through Christmas from 2 to 5 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Call 601-248-2229

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Information from: Enterprise-Journal, https://www.enterprise-journal.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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