Did you do any local shopping on Small Business Saturday? No, well there’s still plenty of time.
You might want to start with a nice fresh, locally grown, Christmas tree. In fact, why not cut your own—it doesn’t get much fresher than that.
This year, there are two options. Hillcrest Orchard, located in Rolling Ground at the intersection of Highway 171 and 61, has plenty of trees and much more. Then, there’s the Zeitler Tree Farm making their first appearance in the local Christmas tree market this year. Zeitler’s is located on Apple Drive off of Highway 171 between the Sunrise and Kickapoo Orchards.
Both Hillcrest and Zeitler’s offer a variety of trees from which to choose. Last weekend, the pleasant weather offered a perfect opportunity for cutting trees.
“It’s a nice day to let the kids run around and go cut a tree,” Richard Zeitler said, as he stood on the ridge watching several families select and cut their trees.
Both Hillcrest and Zeitler’s offer pre-cut trees for those that want them, but when the weather cooperates there’s nothing more enjoyable than taking a saw to the tree yourself. Just remember to take the saw back, if you’re borrowing one like we did at Hillcrest and then drove home with it. Sorry about that, Terre.
Hillcrest Orchard features Fraser Firs, Balsam, Scotch and White Pine. The Zeitler Tree Farm features a Canaan Fir, which is a cross between the Fraser Fir and a Balsam. They also have Fraser Firs, Balsams and Nova Scotia Balsams.
In addition to the trees, Hillcrest is offering half price on their remaining apples and more than one customer was taking the opportunity to take some apples home with them. The orchard also has winter squash at half price. There’s other merchandise like jam, jellies and an assortment of things. You can do a little shopping and a little chatting over the complimentary hot cider or hot cocoa. There are cookies and candy canes for the children and the rest of us.
Hillcrest is also offering wreaths in various sizes. The orchard is open for trees and more Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Sunday Dec. 22. Hillcrest manager Terre Van Haren also explained that if people need to come on another day they can call ahead and make arrangements.
Richard and Karen Zeitler’s enthusiasm for their first year in business is pretty obvious—after all it’s been a longtime coming. The Zeitlers planted the trees being harvested last weekend nine or ten years ago and they were three or four year-old nursery stock at the time.
Hillcrest has lots of repeat customers and Terre chuckled as some familiar faces took to the field after a couple of Christmas trees last Saturday.
“Oh, they like to take a while picking them out,” she explained. The group did exactly that and they were still looking things over 45 minutes later.
While there are Christmas trees to be had at both Hillcrest and the Zeitlers, there’s still more to do with their neighbors on the orchard ridge. Sunrise Orchard’s sales room is still open with apples and lots more merchandise and food items for those looking for that local gift edge. There’s also still time to mail order the local goodness to friends and family with a variety of gift boxes prepared by Sunrise for holiday gifting. All you need is the address.
Nearby Norskhaven has a full line of gifts and some very nice lunch options. Of course, across the road from the Hillcrest salesroom is the McCormick’s Rolling Ground Tavern, now owned by Derek and Megan McCormick stands ready with a large menu of sandwiches, burgers and much more, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Of course, there’s hot apple cider and cocoa for those in the mood.
Plan on making a day of it. You might also want to include stops at the Kickapoo Exchange Food Co-op and the Village Greenhouse next door for some unique local gifts. Then, there are the cured meats and sausages at the Kickapoo Locker and the locally made cheese at the Mt. Sterling Cheese factory.