A local Christmas tree farm reflects on over 2.5 decades in business
By Daniel Stevenson | Photo by Andrea Anderson
Byron May and Diana May moved to Chatham County from Durham in 1994 after purchasing a historic house with an existing Christmas tree farm on the property. “We never dreamed of owning a Christmas tree farm,” Diana says. “Both of us are pharmacists who had full-time jobs, but with no children at the time, we thought of it as an adventure.”
Byron and Diana made it through their first season at the Jordan Lake Christmas Tree Farm with some help from the previous owners. “With the knowledge we gained from them, and a little creativity of our own, we have been able to juggle very full lives and also continue to improve the farm and provide the best Christmas memories we can for all who visit,” Diana says. More than 25 years later, the couple, and now their daughter, Khoury, 20, maintain the farm. “[Khoury] has been working since she was about 6 years old,” Diana says. “Obviously the jobs got a bit more complicated as she has gotten older. Before [then], she was out playing with all the kids who visited.” In the fall, the family prepares the farm for the winter season by setting up parking lots, tree racks, tents, shops and other farm beautification projects. “The list is long,” Diana says. “There is rarely not something to do at the farm.”
The farm offers a variety of choose-and-cut Christmas trees, including Virginia pine, Leyland cypress, Carolina sapphire and eastern red cedar, as well as pre-cut Fraser firs and concolor firs grown and shipped from Sparta, North Carolina. Homemade wreaths, bows and other unique gift items are available in their Christmas shop. The farm opened for the season on Nov. 21 and runs through Dec. 20, though Diana says they often sell out of trees before then.
This season, the farm is taking precautions for COVID-19 by requiring face coverings in their Christmas shop and on the farm wherever 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. They will offer online purchase and curbside pickup of trees and wreaths, as well as special hours Wednesday through Friday mornings for guests who are considered high risk. They will also limit the number of guests with reservations on busy weekends.
The Mays have learned a few lessons over the years: “Enjoy the visitors, and take in the joy of families,” Diana says. “Never forget to thank those who have worked so hard to help. We never could run this farm without the help of wonderful friends, family and community who work with us year after year- for them, we are so grateful.”