Picking your own Christmas tree at Santa Fir in Shamley Green - Surrey Creations
PUBLISHED: 17:29 22 December 2016 | UPDATED: 18:03 22 December 2016
For a festive centrepiece that's sure to steal the show, you can't beat a locally-grown Christmas tree - especially as in Shamley Green, near Guildford, you'll find one of the UK's largest and most awarded growers, Santa Fir. Here, Julie Alexandersen tells us their story
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine December 2016
Having started out in the pretty village of Compton with just 12,000 trees, Santa Fir has taken that number up to 750,000 over the last 20 years – admittedly now spread across a number of sites in the south of England.
“My husband, Hans, became interested in Christmas trees during his time at agricultural college in Shropshire – in fact, he wrote his final dissertation on the subject!” says co-owner Julie Alexandersen. “Having left college, he started to work for the largest Christmas tree grower in England at that time, and that’s where we met.”
After some years, Hans started his own company growing Christmas trees for sellers around the UK. Realising that he was producing some of the finest quality trees for others, he decided to branch out and grow trees for himself. It turned out to be an astute decision, as people started to become more environmentally aware.
“As well as seriously cutting down the road miles etc, locally-grown Christmas trees have other benefits to the environment,” says Julie. “Growing forests are an important part of the fight against global warming. Put simply, trees grow by taking carbon dioxide (the greenhouse gas CO2) out of the atmosphere and releasing clean oxygen. One acre of Christmas trees provides enough daily oxygen for at least 18 people.”
So it’s an ethical decision, but Santa Fir’s trees are also consistently award-winning. Testament to how far they’ve come, they were runners-up in the 2015 competition of the British Christmas Tree Growers’ Association, as well as winner of best wreath, and supplied a tree for 10 Downing Street as part of the prize.
These days, growing trees at Santa Fir is only part of the story, however, and the Shamley Green site is now something of a one-stop shop of Christmas wonder.
“As well as a standing forest of 500 trees for customers to select from, we now have two decoration and gift shops, resident reindeer, weekend fun including a local-produce market, the 140 Field Café, the Firing Earth Pottery Painting Studio, horse and carriage rides, and, of course, Santa,” says Julie.
New for 2016, there will also be two late-night shopping evenings to look forward to this month, on Friday December 9 and Friday December 16 from 6pm to 8pm, where guests will be able to enjoy a glass of mulled wine and a tasty bite to eat from the 140 Field Café whilst choosing their Christmas tree. Sounds like the perfect seasonal soirée to us.
• Santa Fir Christmas Tree Farm, Guildford Road, Shamley Green, near Guildford GU5 0SQ. Tel: 01483 271770. Web: santafir.com
Surrey Creations is a series by local photographer, Philip Traill, exploring people in their work environment, capturing the characters and what they do in a single image. To contact Philip, send an e-mail to him at: firstname.lastname@example.org