Festive Tree Farming
Leo Demasi has been running the ‘Dural Christmas Tree Farm’ for ten years. The son of a flower grower from the Dural agricultural area in Sydney, Leo believes his six and a half acre farm, with just 5000 trees, is fairly small.
While the drought has taken its toll on farming in the last few years, Leo is still very enthusiastic about growing and cultivating different varieties of pine for merry customers at Christmas time.
There are different varieties of pine used for Christmas trees. ‘Radiatta’ is the most common, and hybrids of this species have been developed to grow quicker and leafier.
It takes four years to grow a Christmas tree and there is much pruning and skilful shaping for the foliage to get the right conical shape. At Leo's farm there are trees as old as ten years and as young as two weeks. Once Christmas is over the customer can bring back their dying tree to be made into mulch and re-distributed over the farm.
Leo says that someone with a horticulture skills and qualifications would be a great asset on a pine tree farm because the soil science is very important when eradicating and avoiding bug infestation. Doing the work of cutting the trees can be quite hazardous. Leo and his seasonal workers use machetes and wear cricket pads and eye protection when cutting the trees.
At Christmas time, families come to the farm to choose and cut a fresh pine tree to take home and decorate. The tree stem needs to be re-cutting and fed a lot of water each day (4- 5 litres) for at least six weeks over the holiday period. Leo loves the whole Christmas experience. He loves watching the happy families and helping to enhance their Christmas memories. He says people like a natural tree because of the beautiful pine smell and getting close to nature. Leo gets Santa to come along, he puts on a little animal farm for the kids and gets in live reindeer all to create a fun and festive mood. He really loves making people happy, and Christmas-time is the perfect opportunity for this!