The day after Thanksgiving is a “busy, busy day” for Jerry, the “fresh-cut guy,” running the chain saw at Butler’s Orchard farms in Montgomery County, Maryland.
“I love it out here, this is the best time of year for us. I get all the sap all over me and smell like Christmas trees for days,” said Jerry.
“You can’t have a candle that fakes the smell. It’s just not the same,” said Ben Butler, one of the brothers who works at Butler’s Orchard — nearly 40 acres of farmland where you can cut your own Christmas tree to bring home.
Ben is part of the third generation of Butlers to work on the land. He now enjoys watching other families experience the joy of cutting down their own Christmas trees — trees he spent years growing.
A storied past
“My grandparents who grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, [and] were in the same elementary school class together,” said Ben Butler.
He said that nearly 70 years ago, his grandparents started the legacy of his family’s farm.
“[They] fell in love. Got married in 1950. They knew of a peach orchard that was for sale, and here we are.”
Now, with seven grandkids and the fourth generation of the family going strong, Butler hopes to keep it as a family-run business.
“You know, my grandfather and grandmother could never have known what they had created when they started this,” he said.
The holiday season is known for being busy and full of family, and the Butler’s are no exception.
“We’re together a lot”
Butler said they’re happy they can be busy, together.
“Family Harmony is a big piece of what we do.”
Finding your tree
“It’s a piece of the Christmas puzzle that you have to have. The tree, of course, is so important, but the family memory and the experience of going out to the field looking through thousands of trees to pick the one that you guys can agree on the most,” Butler said. “That’s a thing that your kids won’t forget.”
Emily let her husband do the heavy manual labor when her family traveled to the farm to grab their own Christmas tree to cut down.
“We didn’t want to just show up at a store and walk away with a tree. We wanted to pick it out ourselves,” she said.
Finding a one-of-a-kind Christmas tree is easy at Butler’s Orchard.
Once you grab a provided hand axe and cut down your chosen tree, the crew works to smooth the base of the tree down for the stand. Workers wrap the trees and tie them safely on top of your vehicle, so no tree gets left behind on the highway.
“We have people [come] from Pennsylvania, Virginia, D.C. and all over Maryland,” Jerry said.
You can visit the farm and cut your own tree every weekend until Christmas. The 40-acre farm also sells precut trees every day of the week.
“I just love the sense of freedom it gives me to go out here,” Emily’s 8-year-old daughter shared after picking out the family tree.
Butler said he hopes that his family can make holiday memories for other families.
“We invite you to our place to make an experience, make a memory,” he told WTOP. “We are very lucky and happy to provide that to the community, and start a tradition, hopefully. It brings a lot of joy to see.”
You can visit the Butler’s Orchard website for more details on how to reserve your tree-cutting spot.