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No Lack of Township Venues Offering Live Christmas Trees

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Dustin Moore trims a Christmas tree for a customer at a temporary tree lot in Rutgers Plaza, Easton Avenue.

Ask Sue Degrassi of Somerset what she looks for in a Christmas tree, and she’s quick to answer.

“I like one that’s full,” she said, as she and her husband, Giuliano, picked out a tree in a lot in Rutgers Plaza, Easton Avenue.

The lot – operated by former township Mayor and radio host Bruce Williams, is one of two temporary Christmas tree lots located on Easton Avenue. The lots vie for holiday shoppers’ dollars with a handful of more established township tree farms.

The businesses offer not only trees, but Christmas wreaths and grave blankets.

Douglas and Frasier firs comprise the bulk of the sellers’ stock, but some offer other varieties.

The Williams lot has been run for the past 15 seasons by Dustin Moore, a native of Longview, Texas. Moore said he initially decided to take the job – originally held by a friend – so he could “see what New Jersey is all about.”

The trees arrive around Black Friday, he said. The stand will stay open daily until Christmas Eve.

Trees range in price from about $20 to $53, Moore said.

Williams runs another lot in Franklin Park, Moore said. The two lots offer more than 200 trees, he said.

Just down the street, South Plainfield resident Mike Crandall manages a lot next to the McDonald’s in the Village Plaza.

Alpine lot

Some of the offerings at the temporary Christmas tree lot in Village Plaza, Easton Avenue.

This is the first year that the lot’s operator, Alan Rubin of Alpine Nursery in Belleville, has offered Christmas trees, Crandall said. The lot is usually used to sell flowers around Easter, he said.

“He figured he’d take a shot selling trees,” Crandall said.

Crandall said he sold trees when he was younger, but was hired because of his proficiency in making grave blankets.

The trees on the lot, which is open daily, range in price from about $20 to $75 for the tallest specimens, he said.

He said the lot had almost exhausted its initial order of 270 trees by Dec. 12, and was expecting another delivery.

“It’s going good,” he said.

Harris Farms on Bennetts Lane has been around for more than 50 years, but the Harris family didn’t start selling trees until about 20 years ago, said current owner Jim Harris.

Harris runs the farm with help from family members. The family has another farm in Pennsylvania, he said.

The farm is open Friday, Saturdays and Sundays, he said.

In addition to the usual fare of Douglas and Frasier firs, Harris offers Grand firs and Norway Spruce trees, he said.

His trees range in price from $20 to $130 for the tallest ones.

Harris said he has about 130 trees on his lot for sale, with several hundred more growing on his 18 acres.

It can take about 10 years to grow a Christmas tree to a size large enough to be sold, he said.

Jim Harris

Jim Harris, owner of Harris Farms on Bennetts Lane, inspects one of his Christmas trees.

In addition to growing  them, Harris said he goes to farms in Pennsylvania to choose and cut trees he offers for sale.

“It’s pretty much an advantage for me because I know when they’ve been cut,” he said.

That’s important because cut trees have a shelf life of only five or six weeks.

To prolong the time their needles stay green (and on the tree), trees should be kept away from heat sources (including direct sunlight) and should be watered regularly, Harris said.

On Skillmans Lane, Anthony Circelli has been selling trees from his 8-acre Circelli Tree Farm for the last 16 years.

The former owner sold trees before he bought the property, Circelli said.

Circelli, a contractor by trade who had also worked as a landscaper, said he decided to keep the tree business.

Giuseppe Graziosi

Giuseppe Graziosi with one of his custom-made wreaths at Circelli Tree Farm, Skillmans Lane.

Open 2-5 p.m. weekdays and on weekends, Circelli offers the traditional trees, plus Blue Spruces, Concolor firs, White Pines and Canaan firs.

While he raises most of his trees on his property, Circelli said he buys some “to offer a better selection.”

Trees range in price from $30 to $90, he said.

Circelli said his property holds “a couple thousand” tress, but only about 400 to 500 are harvestable during any one season.

Circelli also offers grave blankets and wreaths, the latter of which are made primarily by his father-in-law, Giuseppe Alfredo Graziosi, with help from his wife and grandchildren.

“It’s a real mom-and-pop operation,” he said.

Two other venues offering Christmas trees include the Wolgast Tree Farm and Suydam Farms on Skillmans Lane. Know of any others? List them in the comments!

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