For sale: Christmas trees and happy memories
Christmas trees have a friend in Jim Horanzy, who embodies the spirit and joy of the holidays.
Within moments of our meeting, Jim is explaining how much he enjoys seeing families come together at his Breezy View Christmas tree farm during the holidays.
“Maybe the kids come in the car with Mom, and Dad brings his old beat-up truck. Grandma comes along in her car, and they go out and tramp through the fields and have a fun day. I love to hear the kids jump out between the trees and say “I found one,” he says. He also likes handing out candy canes.
“We have people who have lunch in the fields. They go out back and sit there all afternoon. My philosophy is have fun. We don’t put restrictions on anybody. They ask, ‘where can we go?,” and I say “anywhere you want.”
Christmas trees at $70/ea.
And that “anywhere” comprises about 30 acres of Christmas trees on Horanzy’s Hill Street property. His fir trees, preferred for their soft needles that don’t fall out easily, come in four varieties:
• Balsams with their strong aroma
• Frasers with their milder aroma
• Concolors known for long, silvery blue needles
• Koreans with their shiny needles
He also grows some blue spruce.
Jim sells his Christmas trees at $70 each, regardless of size. So you may feel a bit gypped if you opt for a 4’ tree, but that 25’ or taller jumbo you pick out will feel like a true bargain. The charge includes shaking the tree to remove dead needles and insects, and baling it.
Jim is a third generation farmer who grew up on the farm and is proud of the accomplishments of his forefathers. His grandfather started as a dairy and tobacco farmer on the same land. His father took over and concentrated on tobacco.
Jim left the area for a while. When he returned in the early 80s, it was Christmas trees that caught his eye, after seeing the success his brother- and sister-in-law had growing them.
First he started as a wholesaler. “The Longmeadow Lions Club would buy 400 at a time,” he says. But then the public began asking to buy direct. He slowly experimented with selling direct and found he preferred it.
Jim also started growing tobacco in 1999, like his father and grandfather before him.
Opens day after Thanksgiving
Breezy Hill opens the day after Thanksgiving. Jim says that day and weekend, along with the following weekend, are the busiest.
His daughters Jaymeson and Erin, their husbands and their seven children help out.
His daughters also operate a holiday wreath making business out of a converted tobacco greenhouse. He says their crew builds standard and custom wreaths and centerpieces from fresh cut greens and adorn them with eye-catching bows and pine cones. The repeat business is amazing, he stresses.
This year, Jaymeson is also offering $50 family photography sessions at the farm with the purchase of a tree. (See breezyview.weebly.com)
How he grows his trees
Although Jim experimented growing trees from seedlings, he wasn’t successful. Now he buys “transplants” that grow a year or two in greenhouses followed by a few years in the ground.
Typically he plants 2,000 to 3,000 trees annually. Last year, it was 5,000 due to the previous year’s heavy rainfall, which decimated his crop. Recently he installed underground drainage in the southeastern part of this property to help keep the fields dry.
In addition to fertilizing and trimming grass between the trees, Jim and a crew of four lop the tops off the trees annually. Lopping keeps the trees fatter and denser, which he says customers prefer.
Pandemic was a godsend
Jim said his business increased 25% to 30% during the pandemic, since cutting down Christmas trees outdoors was a relatively safe family activity.
Then as always, he says he enjoyed the family camaraderie it fostered.
Easy-going and accommodating
Jim is comical when he recounts times he’s gone above and beyond for customers.
“It’s six o’clock Christmas Eve and people will call up and say, ‘I just got in from Florida to Grandma’s house and there’s no tree.’ They have kids. So I meet them at the farm and sell them a tree.”
He says he tries to accommodate everyone, “even the family in the minivan with six kids hanging out the window, who show up at 5 p.m. when I’m ready to go home.”