Cline and Ellen Church started at a young age – just teenagers – in 1974 preparing land and planting their dreams on family farm land in Fleetwood, North Carolina in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They started out with Fraser Fir and White Pine seedlings purchased through the North Carolina Forestry Service. By 1977 Cline Church Nursery was formed and the first trees were harvested in 1981. They were truly a 2 person show since the beginning. They made garland, grew pole beans and cabbage, dug by hand and peddled nursery stock throughout the Ohio valley and East coast all to fund their dream of being Christmas tree farmers. According to Ellen "we fell into it absolutely at the best time!" Many of those same people they peddled trees to so many years ago are still loyal customers today.
What began as a small operation is now a 500 acre tree farm with Fraser Fir Christmas trees and Nursery Stock in various stages of growth. And the future looks bright! A second generation is coming up in the company – Cline and Ellen's children, Amber Scott and Alex Church both have a passion for the industry and have plans to continue planting and harvesting trees for years to come.
The entirety of our year round operations center around three major focal points. In the Spring (March, April and May) we are selling balled and burlapped nursery stock such as Norway Spruce, Colorado Spruce, White Pine, Hemlock, Dogwood and others. There is also a crew dedicated to planting in the Spring months – for every tree harvested at least one is planted back.
The Fall months of September and October bring about a similar version of our Spring activity. However at the end of October we must quickly switch gears and carry out the other approximately 60% of our annual business over the next month and a half. We wholesale cut Christmas trees, mostly Fraser Fir, and wreaths and roping to other nurseries, landscapers, garden centers and retailers in the Northeast and Midwest. Many of our Christmas tree customers are those who have already received one or multiple shipments from us earlier in the year of nursery stock. Some only deal in Christmas trees like those who set up in farmers markets across the country, run corner lots in towns, or are produce vendors the rest of the year. Another group of our customers are those organizations that sell Christmas trees and wreaths as fundraising opportunities. These include Boy Scout Troops, churches, sororities, and other civic organizations.
What we wish others to see in us is the joy that we have doing something we love. Yes, it does involve lots of time and hard work, but don’t most things that are worth it require such? God bless!