Local farm offers eco-friendly live trees

Published 1:07 am Saturday, November 29, 2014


Covington County Tree Farm offers an eco-friendly, economical solution for holiday decorating: live trees.

“One thing is instead of killing a tree, you plant one,” owner Bruce Gibbs said. “Take it outside and plant it with the kids after Christmas.”

The theme at Covington County Tree Farm is “Plant a Memory” and owners said that it exactly what they’re selling, memories.

“Is it your baby’s first Christmas? Cherish the memory by planting the tree out in the front yard,” owner “Little John” Niedbala said.

Gibbs said that decorating is pretty much the same as normal trees, but decorations should be put a little farther back because the limbs are not as strong as some trees. The plus side to this is less shedding.

The live trees are not fire hazards like cut trees because they are still green.

“Once you cut the tree, it dies,” Gibb said. “Then it dries out and causes a fire hazard, and the needles fall off and make a mess.”

The farm offers two options of the Christmas tree, a 6-foot, 15-gallon tree for $25 and a 4-foot, 7-gallon tree for $15.

“You can’t beat that price,” Niedbala said. “A dead cut tree will cost you more than that.”

Gibbs said they have sold more than 10 trees as of Thanksgiving weekend, and anticipate selling more than 1,000 individual trees before the end of the season.

Gibbs said he has some of the same people coming every year to buy a tree and there is no need to wait because the live trees won’t make a mess.

“You should really plant your tree instead of throwing it away,” owner Bruce Gibbs said. “They make a real nice privacy fence.”

A typical tree weighs approximately 40 pounds in the pot, so many people are able to carry the trees into their home without problems, the owners said.

There are more than 10,000 trees on the farm and 1,000 of those trees are the 6-foot variety and ready for Christmas.

Most are sold for commercial use and transported as far as Boston. The Leyland Cyprus is used for landscaping, and Gibbs said many people plant their Christmas trees in the yard for the next year or to use for privacy.

The proceeds from selling the wholesale trees out-of-state feeds back into the county, and the everything that is used to care for the trees remains in the area, too.

For 20 years, Gibbs has been using his knowledge and know-how to raise Leyland Cyprus Trees, which is what the farm sells most of.

“There weren’t any Leylands when I started 20 years ago,” Gibbs said. “I brought cuttings up from Gainesville, Fla.”

The farm also provides a variety of other trees and bushes, like holly and a new option called green giant arborvata.

“It’s something different and a lot of people ask about them,” Niedbala said.

The practices used at Covington County Tree farm harness eco-friendly techniques.

“We use micro-irrigation so there is no water loss,” Niedbala said. “We’re participating in water conservation practices. We think green.”

The farm also boasts a lumberyard run by Niedbala. They carry locally harvested wood including cherry and red cedar.

The tree farm is located at 19650 County Road 70 in Andalusia (the location of Rhett Butler Trucking, an owner in the business), and is open throughout the week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If residents will call ahead, the owners said someone will be available to assist in determining the best possible tree.

For more information, call Niedbala at 334-343-6954.