If you’re driving along Waiteville Road on the southern side of Peter’s Mountain, you’ll most likely pass a big, red firetruck. That firetruck sits near the west entrance of the Potts Creek Tree Farm, LLC, and has become their business’s mascot. The farm includes a pond and 38 acres of evergreen trees that sit on a 130-acre tract owned by the LLC. It’s been in business since 2011, providing Christmas trees to wholesalers, but this year is different. Potts Creek Tree Farm is now open to the public. Business partners, Derick Proctor and Darla Miller decided on a “once price fits all” strategy to keep things simple. Every harvested tree (with some exceptions), regardless of the height, costs sixty-five dollars, which includes baling the tree and carrying it to the buyer’s vehicle.
Proctor bought the property in 2011 and began to make his dream a reality by planting the first trees on the farm. He has since retired from law and divides his time between Clearwater, Florida, and Waiteville, West Virginia, having fallen in love with the rural community. Miller is a lifetime resident of Monroe County and currently resides in Zenith. What was once playful banter about going into the Christmas tree business is now a partnership between the two.
Selling live balled trees that may be planted after Christmas was considered, but there’s a lot of additional paperwork and permits required before Potts Creek may offer that option. They’re taking a “wait and see” approach to determine if there’s a market for converting used Christmas trees into outdoor evergreens. Darla agreed that it would be better for the trees and the environment if a tree could be repurposed after the holidays. Customer demand will drive whether or not that option is offered.
In addition to growing and selling Christmas trees, Darla has big plans for the development of Potts Creek Tree Farm. “We’re going to have other things there, besides the trees themselves for people who don’t buy a live tree. We’re going to have primitives, Christmas crafts, live wreaths and slags. We’ll have centerpieces, lots of decorations. We’re going to have food, a fire pit, and a photographer. A lot of different activities planned beyond the trees.”
Most of the primitive items for the shop are made by Darla and her mother, including some antiques that have been repurposed. Some local artisans have some displays in the store as well including hand-crocheted items, leather earrings, and hand-painted Christmas ornaments to name a few, but the shop isn’t the only extra attraction. She has several ideas for the near future including creating a wedding venue, having seasonal pumpkins, and other activities throughout the year. This is because she sees the farm as more than a business but as an opportunity to help and support her community.
Darla said, “Even if you’re not in the market for a real Christmas tree, we still welcome you to come out, walk around and have hot chocolate. Kinda take in what we have put so much work into offer for the community, take pictures with your family. I think life is just hard and maybe it’s me and maybe I’m being naive, but I want happiness for people at the holidays and if people can come out and walk around and just take in some of the sights and enjoy the day, I would be all right with that.”
Darla has worked in a law office in Union for almost 20 years and expects to retire from there in the coming years. In the meantime, she spends her free hours learning about the Christmas tree business, planting, harvesting, clearing, and challenges such as insects, diseases, and weather. A Christmas tree takes about seven to ten years of growth to be ready for harvesting, so there’s just enough time to put this spring’s seedlings into the ground and have them ready for Darla’s retirement when she can then make her passion her full-time job.
To learn more about the Potts Creek Tree Farm, you may visit their Facebook page.