ACCORD–Gordie Bell and his wife, Paula, have seen flocks of lovebirds nestle under their fresh pines, and they weren’t the sort with wings.
They were couples madly in love, popping the question and saying “I do” beneath the canopy of Christmas evergreens that the Bells grow year round.
“We’re still waiting on an actual wedding to happen here,” said Gordie, who operates the 25-acre farm with his family in the foothills of the Catskills.
While they’ve witnessed monumental events like proposals, the Bells said the best experiences are the ones that bring families back annually to their tidy, green and fragrant farm.
“I think it’s the country setting and the views. It’s not commercial,” said Paula Bell, who greets visitors in a welcoming way.
“I think it’s the excitement in the air. It’s a happy time of year. If someone has a store, you see grumpy people a lot, and we usually see happy people.”
Late last week, a group of preschoolers and their parents proved the point. Despite a numbing wind, the children squealed as they hopped aboard a hayride and took a tour of the farm, which has a pioneer-type feeling.
All around them were the scenes of Christmas–minus the snow, which hadn’t yet arrived. Signs like Jingle Bell Junction, Santa Claus Lane and ones that bear the names of the jolly fellow’s reindeer are strategically placed at various paths on the property.
But the trees create the real yuletide spirit on the former dairy farm that grows everything from Colorado Blue Spruces to Douglas firs.
George Piskoz of Saugerties came to the farm to continue a family tradition of picking a perfect cone-shaped tree.
“We’ve been coming out here for about 10 years or probably more,” he said. “It’s just for the adventure…and getting a tree that’s living and knowing that they’re going to replant them.
“This year, we decided to bring my daughter, her husband and my granddaughter, and we’re loving it. It’s beautiful being in nature and actually having an opportunity to see what a tree looks like when it’s cut down fresh.”
The Bells enjoy hearing all the good things people say about their farm, particularly how orderly it is.
“We are quite meticulous,” said Gordie. “We don’t prune them heavy. We prune them lightly so they still look natural and you have a place to hang your ornaments. We just think it’s the place to come.”
While there is a nationwide Christmas tree shortage this year, Bell’s farm isn’t suffering.
The shortage stems from the recession in 2008 when farmers planted fewer trees due to lower demand. Other factors such as drought and wildfires in states like North Carolina, West Virginia and Kentucky also account for the shortage.
“We have plenty of trees. We won’t run out of trees, and we have a good variety up to 14-feet tall,” Gordie said.
That was good news for a Sullivan County couple that travels every year to get their Christmas tree at the Accord farm.
“It’s tradition, and it’s just the thrill of being out and cutting your own tree down,” said Stu Weber of Mountaindale. “Plus, it’s fresher. The ones you buy at the lots were cut about a month ago up in places like Maine. With this one, you know it’s fresh, and it’s going to last a little bit longer.”
His wife, Joanne, even considers it somewhat romantic, again, going back to the lovebirds’ theme.
“It’s a date kind of thing that I do with my husband. We go to the diner right around the corner for lunch afterward, and it’s a day. It’s nice. We go home. The tree goes up, and we take our time decorating,” she said.