There is no question what the Havana Christmas Tree Farm at 2867 Florida-Georgia Parkway produces and sells.
Driving by, everyone can see the rows of perfectly-shaped trees that bring the spirit of Christmas into the homes of families throughout our state.
A farm like this allows its clients to experience the tradition of picking out their perfect tree and actually cutting it down themselves.
Clients are of all ages and from all walks of life, but those most excited by the experience are young couples with children.
Linda Sellers, owner of this family business, describes it as a happy and fun place to work.
Her husband, who died this past year, had a pool business in Tallahassee and wanted something to keep him busy in the winter.
They never dreamed it would get to the point where the business can now support Sellers all by itself.
Sellers’ daughter, Kristi Bortz from Crystal River, helps out and her nephew works two days a week keeping her equipment running well.
Sellers has one full-time employee and hires others for mowing, trimming and watering.
“While it is fun and fulfilling to see the happiness the farm brings to others, it is a lot of work,” Sellers explains. “The work does not end with the end of the Christmas season.”
Sellers has 26 acres and 25,000 trees to take care of. Planting begins right after Christmas with 500-1,000 1-gallon Leyland cypress, as well as seedlings, getting planted. She sells trees year-round.
Right now, Sellers is ordering for her gift shop, which she is planning on redoing for the first time in 20 years.
The new supplies will be in by May and June when the new gift shop will be set up.
Sellers uses artificial trees in the gift shop to hold the decorations but they are not for sale. She sells real trees, and does not believe the use of artificial trees by some has hurt her business. She makes her own wreaths and garlands.
In July, Sellers begins setting up the yard art.
She sells a lot of yard art, which holds up for years (unlike those sold in big box stores).
She even makes house calls to rejuvenate older yard art she has sold.
The lights at the farm are turned on the first of October each year, heralding the beginning of the Christmas season.
The farm hosts tours for school children, whose wide eyes and thank yous make all the work worthwhile, Sellers says.
She is contemplating having an Easter hunt for children this year but it is still in the planning stages.
She also provides the tree for the Capitol in Tallahassee annually.
Sellers takes the week after Christmas off each year, but the next week the planting, trimming, mowing, watering and spraying starts all over again, so that the magic of Christmas will be ready by the next October 1.
By Judy Conlin