Sunday, December 6, 2009


The Niagara section of today's Buffalo News features an interview with James Merrell of Merrell's Evergreen Acres.

It's a great conversation that begins with this introduction...

HARTLAND—Plenty of people are in the Christmas tree business these days, but veterans like James Merrell know there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Merrell’s Evergreen Acres on Wruck Road comprises 150 acres surrounding the family homestead, a cobblestone house dating from 1829 that merits its own roadside historical marker.

James, 50, took over the tree business from his father, Harry, who also was an ag teacher at Royalton-Hartland High School. But the competition has cut into the business so much that he has to augment farming with a 36- hour-a-week job as a machine mechanic at Perry’s Ice Cream in Akron to make ends meet.

Despite that, Merrell says it never crossed his mind to do anything else. “You don’t pick farming; farming picks you,” he laughed.

The farm also grows corn, but for Merrell, Christmas trees are a year-round project, with 8,000 trees in various stages of growth.

“There’s a lot of fatalities from the weather, a lot of deer busting them up. Before they’re tall enough to sell, you might have 50 percent that are good. A deer breaks one branch, you’ve got a hole in the tree, and it never grows back,” he explained.

And the evergreens are highly susceptible to drought—or overwetness. “I’ve had whole blocks of 1,000 trees die from the drought. It shocks them.”

To read the entertaining and informative interview go to the Buffalo News' website: