Edible Activity crop

Many Long Island farmers grow evergreens. Fresh evergreens look and smell wonderful and are used for wreaths, decorations and, of course, Christmas trees. At our tree farms, you can choose a live tree instead of a precut tree trucked in from faraway. It might seem sad to cut down a tree, but here’s one way to look at it: trees are like any plant crop; we grow them for food, decoration or useful products like wood and paper. Tree farmers will tell you their farms are good for the environment. Trees keep the atmosphere by removing carbon dioxide and adding back oxygen. Also, trees are biodegradable; plastic trees are not. And they can be recycled into mulch. Buying a local tree also helps farmers stay in business, and that’s good for all who love our farms.

Here’s a visit to Shamrock Christmas Tree Farm in Mattituck: First, dress warmly so you can walk around and choose a tree, but remember, it gets dark early at this time of year. The different kinds include Douglas and Fraser firs and balsams. They will lend your grown-up a saw, if you plan to cut the tree yourselves. Or they will cut the tree for you. Then they fluff it and shake out any critters, net it and help tie it to the top of your vehicle. Afterward, there is hot chocolate and snacks, a train ride, visits with Santa and even wine tasting for the adults. All the tree farms have wreathes and garlands ornaments and snacks and fun stuff to do. For example, Dart’s Christmas Tree Farm in Southold has a hayride, Paul’s Christmas Tree Farm in Center Moriches has a bonfire and free hot chocolate, and Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm in Cutchogue has live reindeer and visits from Santa.

Kinds of trees grown at local tree farms:

  • • BLUE SPRUCE—Sharp, bluish-gray needles and pleasing, symmetrical shape
  • • DOUGLAS FIR—Nice, full, pyramid shape with stiff, dark-green-blue needles
  • • FRASER FIR—Defined branches with lots of room for ornaments; green-silvery needles; very fragrant
  • • BALSAM FIR—Dark-green, long-lasting needles; attractive shape ending in a slim spire at the top
  • • EASTERN WHITE PINE—Soft, long, green needles; makes big pinecones
  • • SCOTCH PINE—Cone-shape, with long, soft needles that stay on the tree a long time and make less of a mess
  • • EASTERN RED CEDAR—Classic shape, feathery fronds of leaves


Some Grown-on-site Tree Farms in Suffolk County:
Carter Christmas Tree Farm, 123 N. Country Road, Miller Place 631.331.4699, cartertreefarm.org; Dart’s Tree Farm, 2355 Main Bayview Road, Southold; 631.765.4148, dartstreefarm.com; Elwood Farm, 1500 Jericho Turnpike, Huntington, 631.368.8626, elwoodpumpkinfarm.com; Lewin Farms, 812 Sound Avenue, Wading River, 631.929.4327, lewinfarm.com; Matt’s Christmas Tree Farm, 309 Weeks Avenue, Manorville, 631.874.6260, mattschristmastreefarm.com; Mike’s Christmas Tree Farm, 323 Weeks Avenue, Manorville, 631.874.3551, mikestreefarm.com; Paul’s Christmas Tree Farm, 240, Frowein Road, Center Moriches, 631.878.8645; Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm, 30105 Main Road, Cutchogue, 631.734.7627; Shamrock Farm, 20685 Main Road, Mattituck, 631.298.4619, shamrockchristmastreefarm.com; Tilden Lane Farm, 48 Wykoff Street, Greenlawn, 631.261.6392, tildenlanefarm.com; Zuhoski/Windy Acres Farms, 11825 Oregon Road, Cutchogue, 631.734.5036, zuhoskifarms.com


You will need a plain, premade wreath form from the craft story, clippers and green florist wire.

First, go for a walk. Bring clippers and a bag. Collect foliage from evergreens. The more variety, the better. Look for berries—like holly and juniper—ivy and pinecones. Shells, feathers, dried seedpods—anything goes!

At home, clip the foliage about six to eight inches long, and wire together into bundles. Tie a knot in the wire, and leave a tail on it, so you can wire the bundle to the wreath. Tuck bundles into the wreath so it gets fatter and has a greater variety of greenery. Then add wire to the decorations: the sprigs of holly or the shells. Arrange these into rosettes, or any way you like, and then wire to the wreath. You can add a bow, or paint some of the decorations silver or gold.

Now you have a unique and very fancy wreath!