Baking cookies for Santa, listening to Christmas music and watching classic holiday movies will help you get in the Christmas spirit, but for those who desire to go the extra mile this season might want to visit the Bavarian Tree Farm, located less than 9 miles east of Tallahassee.
For the past 20 years, tree farm owners Franco and Sigrid Camacho have been supplying Tallahassee and the Big Bend with live Christmas trees. Visitors get to choose and cut their own trees, adding a personal touch to their holiday memories.
The Camachos say Christmas is their favorite holiday and they enjoy spreading that joy with whoever visits their farm.
Franco, originally from Costa Rica, and Sigrid, of Bavaria, Germany, met in Miami. After previously working at a Christmas tree farm in North Carolina, Franco took what he learned and made it into his own business, opening Bavarian Tree Farm in 1998.
According to Franco, there are not many Christmas tree farms left in the country, especially not in the north Florida area, so the Camachos get plenty of visitors. Some of the farms went out of business when the owners died and their descendants did not desire to carry on the family business.
Franco says his trees are tough. “They sustain disease and bad weather,” he said.
On their 15-acre lot, the Camachos have an assortment of South Red Cedar and Cyprus trees ranging from child friendly trees 12 inches tall to a 15-year-old, 27-foot tree. “In the beginning we started off with pine trees because that’s what they grow in central Florida but we have clay here which makes growing pine trees difficult,” Franco said.
Customers tend to favor the South Red Cedar, he said. It's similar to what they know. One customer said “we wanted a real tree. We saw the signs in town and have been wanting to do this for years, so this year we finally did.”
Once customers select their tree, it is measured, shaken to remove any critters that may be hiding, bundled up and ready for the fresh tree owners to take home.
It's evident the Camachos take pleasure in what they do. From the moment you step on to their farm they greet you with smiles as warm as the sun, almost making you forget you’re outdoors on a cold, crisp day.
“We feel like we know those people, you see them once a year for a couple of hours,” Sigrid said. Sigrid says their farm is a popular spot for date nights. She pointed out a tree one couple liked while on a date and was bought by the boyfriend as a surprise for his girlfriend.
The Camachos try to make visiting their farm a family affair. They have a little store on the property filled with Christmas trinkets and items from Germany costing no more than five dollars and kid friendly toys on the property so kids can play while their parents shop.
Courtney Sims, a tree shopper, said, “I’m hoping to start a new tradition with my kids which is why we chose to come here.”
The holiday spirit is felt year round at Bavarian Tree Farm. Sigrid said: “We make it, we enjoy it, we love it.”