Blaine Carter hopes his family farm will be where Columbia County families begin their Christmas traditions while also helping ensure the county's needy families eat well this holiday season.
Carter said he has planted pasture land on his family estate near Grovetown with several varieties of Christmas trees and will be opening Carter Christmas Tree Farm to the public this weekend as a place for guests to choose and cut their Christmas trees.
"(Traditions) have got to start somewhere," Carter said. "A lot of people probably have never done it before. It'll be an inaugural year for us and an inaugural year for a lot of people as well."
The farm offers Leyland cypress, Carolina Sapphire and Virginia pine trees grown on site as well as imported Fraser firs. Trees, 5- to 10-feet tall, are sold at $5 per foot.
Carter said he's offering a 10 percent discount for guests who bring at least two canned food items for donation to the Columbia County Cares food pantry.
"My Dad said we've been so blessed over the years, why don't we give back a little bit," Carter said. "It is a small amount. We eat a little bit of the cost, but it is well worth it. This is when they are in dire need."
Carter, a University of Georgia agriculture graduate, returned to the fifth generation farm in hopes of using the pasture land that had previously been rented for hay growth. He planted nearly six acres of trees -- 2,000 in different stages of growth.
The farm also is offering a campfire to roast marshmallows, hot chocolate and other refreshments and tractor-pulled hay rides.
Carter said he remembers the special time he joined his family to choose and cut a fresh Christmas tree.
"It did stick out in my mind," Carter said. "There was just something about taking the whole family out. I don't know, like seeing (3-year-old daughter) Libby run through the Christmas trees. I want families to come out, grandparents and whatnot to come out, have an experience."
Guests are welcome to cut their own trees or may have a worker cut their chosen tree.
Carter said his family, all of whom live in the property -- including his brother and sister-in-law, Branch and Tway Carter, and his parents, Ron and Elaine Carter -- will be greeting guests, selling trees and otherwise helping run the seasonal business.
"It is totally a family affair," Carter said.
The farm, at 656 Lewiston Road/Horizon South Parkway, opens this weekend. The farm will be open daily, except Mondays, through Christmas Eve.
For more information, visit www.cartertreefarm.com.
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