Family-run Christmas tree farm stakes out its roots
When Myra Sawyer looks around the Sawyer Family Farmstead, she couldn’t image living anywhere else in the world.
“This is about as close as you can get to heaven on earth,” she said. “Words can’t express how beautiful this place is, people dream about places like this.”
And dream they do. From numerous weddings each summer on the property to cutting down that perfect Christmas tree in the winter, the landscape is as inviting as it is breathtaking.
“I like connecting people to the things they love, to hear their dreams for their wedding and being able to make that wish of theirs happen,” said Nicole Wade, wedding planner for the farmstead and daughter-in-law to Myra. “Every bride has a vision for their wedding and we’ll connect them with local vendors to make sure everything is perfect.”
Purchased almost 30 years ago by Myra’s husband, Tom Sawyer, the property and tree farm is now in its third growing rotation. Originally from Florida, Sawyer found himself in Western North Carolina often for outdoor excursions. He eventually became a partner in another Christmas tree farm. From there, he decided to go at it on his own and came across the majestic 80-acre farmstead near Lake Glenville. What was once an apple farm, cabbage field and cattle ranch was now a beautiful landscape ready for its next role.
“We help Mother Nature and do our part by replanting trees and taking great care of the land,” Myra said. “The clovers and wildflowers help the tree roots and wildlife here. The trees and environment provide us with such fresh air. We want to make sure the land remains pristine and lush.”
Currently, there are more than 70,000 Christmas trees on the land, with 9,000 planted per year. When the weather turns chilly, and snow hits the ground, the Tow Sawyer Christmas Tree Farm and Elf Village emerges. The business sells around 6,000 trees wholesale each holiday season, with 5,000 visitors between Thanksgiving and Christmas making the trek with family and friends to find the perfect tree and experience the village.
“I’ve made 120 elf costumes for anyone who wants to wear one, wander the village and get their picture taken,” Myra chuckled. “It’s always exciting when the village gets full of visitors, I love it all.”
As the snow melts, and winter gives way to spring, the tree farm transforms into a renowned wedding venue. With an array of options and styles, the property has created deep ties with local merchants, vendors, musicians and artisans to provide the wedding party with the true essence of Southern Appalachia.
“We love sharing the farmstead with people,” Wade said. “Nature has already decorated their wedding for them, and they have very little to do with all we can prepare and provide.”
Wade often finds herself wandering the landscape, where a crisp, clear night in the mountains of Western North Carolina provides the stage for the most beautiful show of all – the night sky.
“You feel like you’re on the moon when you can experience stars like the way you do here,” she said.
Since moving to the farmstead from Fort Lauderdale, Wade has truly embraced the intricate and personal nature of residing in a small town. She appreciates the peace and quiet, as well as the unique characters that make up the community.
“I love the natural beauty of the mountains and the landscape. It’s great being able to take my children on all these adventures throughout the region,” she said. “I came from a city as large, population-wise, as this entire area, so being part of a small town is amazing. You go to the grocery store or the pharmacy or wherever, and everyone knows who you are.”
With 43 weddings held at the Sawyer Family Farmstead in 2013, and another 29 already lined up for next year, Wade is eager for any and all to come and see for themselves this slice of paradise tucked away in the hills of Jackson County.
“It’s a blessing to meet so many incredible people through this land,” she said. “And seeing them experience and enjoy this atmosphere is why we’re here.”