Text by Katie Wood / Photography by Mac Jamieson
Pine Hill Farm owners, Cary and Carlene Walker, not only grow lush evergreen trees, but they also cultivate a time-honored Christmas tradition for families who return year after year to relive treasured holiday memories.
“It’s a special place with a special spirit.” That’s how Carlene Walker describes the unique family Christmas tree farm she and her husband, Cary, own. Located just outside of Birmingham, Alabama, Pine Hill Farm stretches across 15 acres of beautiful rolling hills, dappled with hundreds of Christmas trees. It is a place where families from across the area flock each year for an “old-fashioned” Christmas experience.
Customers can find several varieties of Christmas trees at Pine Hill Farm, including the Leyland Cypress and Carolina Sapphire, in a range of different sizes with some reaching heights of more than 20 feet. The farm also offers popular precut trees like Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, and Black Hills Spruce, which have been imported from Northern states. At Pine Hill Farm the Walkers not only allow customers the rustic and visceral experience of cutting down their tree of choice, but they also offer the lighting, flocking with snow, and even delivery of their tree. “We’ve never heard of somebody doing all of that,” Carlene said, “We didn’t have any more land to expand on, so we just decided to expand by offering more services.”
Carlene said the memories that children and families make together while picking out the perfect tree is just one of many reasons why she recommends people buy from a tree farm instead of a big-box store. “When you come out to the farm, it’s a whole experience,” she said, “You get to ride the farm wagon, you see the reindeer in the authentic old barn, and you just get to be out in the country.”
Carlene always encourages customers to visit Santa’s reindeer—Forest, Holly, and a new baby reindeer—before heading up to the gift shop for a complimentary of hot chocolate, cider, or coffee. “Our motto is ‘Have an old-fashioned Christmas experience,’ and we want it to be a family experience that they can look back on and treasure,” she said. Carlene says the greatest moments for her are to see families who came when the farm first opened, 25 years ago, returning to enjoy picking a tree, riding the wagon, and visiting he reindeer with their children and grandchildren.