Trees that keep giving

By Eric Butler

Some Clovis residents don’t just buy their Christmas trees for the holiday season. Their purchase is for the duration.
A tree farm outside the city, operated by Joe and Jill Whitehead, supplied about 70 Clovis families their Christmas trees this year.
When the festivities are done and the lights come down, these trees won’t head for the dumpsters. Instead, they’re replanted in the yards of the buyers.
“I hate whenever I see the leftover Christmas trees at the lots. The ones that aren’t sold, who knows what they do with it — probably just junk it,” said Jamie Jones, who lives near Ranchvale and has bought trees from Whitehead farm for nine years.
“I figure what a waste it is to cut all those trees down for no good reason really. I like the fact that we can bring it inside and have something to put the ornaments on,” Jones said. “Then, when you’re done with it, you take it out and plant it and you have a nice growing tree.”
On the Whitehead farm northwest of Clovis, a variety of trees are grown and sold during the year. For the Christmas season, the popular types are Scotch Pine, Austrian Pine, Pinon and Ponderosa.
Indeed the biggest time of the year for the Whiteheads is at Christmas. The living Christmas trees cost $79, but that includes delivery and replanting when the celebrations are over.
Jill Whitehead recommends the tree be uprooted as late as possible, but said earlier delivery usually doesn’t dramatically lower the chances of survival.
“Everybody has their traditions and a lot of people get them that Thanksgiving weekend and they do fine too,” Whitehead said. “Two weeks (or less) is what we recommend, though nobody ever does that. But we’ve been real successful with this; (the trees) do good.”
Dean Turvaville’s family has made has Whitehead farm an annual tradition.
“We always go out every year about September and pick one out while it’s still fairly warm. We make a day of it with the family,” said Turvaville, who has purchased trees every Christmas for the past 11 years. “Then, Joe will call me up and say, ‘Hey Dean, you ready for us to deliver?’ Afterward, we plant it. It’s a really neat thing.”
Turvaville’s family recently moved to a location north of Mesa Elementary School, so he had to leave behind trees filled with memories at his former residence.
“I could look out there and see the tree for my daughter’s first Christmas and my two sons,” said Turvaville, who has taken the tradition to his new house. “So, what we did is go out and clipped some of the branches from those trees and put them in our baby books.”
The Whiteheads have been selling trees since 1986 and have approximately 4,000 on their farm.
The trees that were first sold for replanting in the late 1980s are now reaching heights of 15 feet to 20 feet tall. And, yes, the Whiteheads do notice them when they drive around Clovis.
“We go around town and say, ‘Oh, look, they’re taking care of it,’” Jill Whitehead said. “It’s nice. It’s like selling puppies. You want them to have a good home.”