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Tuesday December 13, 2011 Edition
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Zeno’s Tree Farm Is a Holiday Tradition

Erik, Rich and Paige Stolen finding the perfect tree at Zeno's Tree Farm.
photo provided
Erik, Rich and Paige Stolen finding the perfect tree at Zeno's Tree Farm.

Tuesday December 13, 2011

By Paige Stolen

The sounds of snow crunching underneath your boots; icicles hanging from the trees, the flash of white and colored lights and a sense of fun all mark the beginning of the holiday season and the search for the perfect tree. This reporter remembers some of her first outings at the Zeno Tree Farm and running through rows of snow-laden trees with the serious task of finding the fullest and most special tree. Even though she was only five, she took her job very seriously and looked forward to Christmas songs and ornaments as the tree got decorated later that day. For her family and hundreds others the season starts with a trip to Zeno’s Tree Farm in Starksboro.

Carroll Zeno started his Christmas tree farm in 1980. His Christmas trees began as a hobby but soon turned into a business. It took him four years to clear the three acres of land for planting. Zeno planted four-hundred trees with his family just “to see what would happen”. During the first fifteen years he sold Scotch pine, white spruce and blue spruce. At the time they were the fastest growing trees and every body's favorite. In the early years when Zeno was still learning about tree farming, he was holding a Christmas party at his residence. The tree he had selected to be on display in his home a a bare spot so Zeno decided to cover it up by drilling a hole in the trunk and inserting a branch. Later, a child attending the party was admiring the tree. She noticed the odd branch and pulled it right out of the tree. He says family members still get a laugh out of that story today.

As time passed and Zeno became more experienced the demand changed and he began to plant Balsam trees. The Scotch pines became useless so he cut up what was left and burned them. He kept the blue spruce and sold them to landscaping companies, these grew larger and Zeno also sold them as Christmas trees. On average it takes about ten years for a ten foot tall Christmas tree to grow. “It all depends on the soil and weather,” Zeno says. Light soil grows the trees faster than heavy soil. Weather plays a major part in the Christmas tree business, the snow brings in more customers but too much snow can be troublesome. Zeno says he’s only had to close once in all his years of operation because there was just too much snow.” When there’s two-three feet of snow on the ground,” Zeno explained, “people cut their trees too high.” He thought that Vermonters would be surprised to know that he always plants back after cutting. He says Christmas trees are like any other agricultural crop, once you harvest them you plant them again.

Each year, the Zeno Tree Farm sells about two-hundred fifty trees on average. On weekdays they cut trees by appointment and on the weekends they are open from 9am until dark. The price is $40 per tree. They are located at 200 Sunny Valley Rd, Starksboro off of Route 116. So grab your elves and the rest of the family too and start your season with the perfect tree.

The Valley Voice is pleased to introduce readers to Paige Stolen, who is a new writer on the staff. Paige is a freshman at VUHS and a writer for the School On line Magazine Karybdis. She is a niece of the Zeno family and has been a part of their Christmas traditions since she was a baby.

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