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14 November, 2021

Real tree for a real family Christmas

CHRISTMAS is never far away for Alex and Juana Adoberg outside Atherton. Along with their five children – Eli, Scarlett, Victoria, Emily and Hannah – they are literally surrounded by it all year round.

By Sally Turley

Juana and Alex Adoberg have been working hard to prepare for the November/December Christmas tree rush at their Atherton farm.

They live on the Christmas Tree Farm in the midst of the 20,000 Monterey Pine Christmas trees that go on sale this time each year.

Alex and Juana both grew up celebrating the festive season with "real" Christmas trees, Alex in Melbourne and Juana in New Zealand and after years of living in Far North Queensland, they started to miss the tradition.

“The whole ceremony of going as a family to select our tree, decorating it together and enjoying the beautiful fresh pine scent that it spreads through the entire house during the Christmas period added another dimension to the holidays for us,” Mrs Adoberg said.

Even though not from a farming background, the Adobergs had been nursing a dream of owning a small rural block for years before they decided to take the plunge. 

Selling their business, the Atherton Motel, about 15 years ago, they bought 11.5ha of scenic rolling hillside on the Kennedy Highway outside Atherton. 

Unsure of what exactly to do with their dream block, they tried cattle there, but were somewhat limited by its size. 

During a Sunshine Coast holiday, the couple saw "real" Christmas trees, trucked north from Melbourne for sale and the kernel of an idea formed. 

By 2016, they were selling their first crop of trees and a range of Christmas decorations to the public.

As the only retailer of live Christmas trees north of Brisbane, it was a steep learning curve. They endured cyclones, bouts of tree fungus and break ins from the occasional cow, but have never looked back. 

Alex plants 2000 trees by hand in a rotational system each year. He hand prunes them into their traditional shape multiple times throughout the four to four-an-a-half years it takes them to grow to maturity, and said tree numbers had reached capacity on the farm. 

The farm opened for tagging – a time for customers to come and choose and reserve their tree for Christmas – last weekend.

The presence of the ice cream truck and hot dog van completed the experience. Confident it will be another sell-out year, Mrs Adoberg said increased demand in 2020 forced them to cut into this year’s crop. 

“Our larger trees have already sold out online, but we still have all sizes available on the farm at this stage,” she said.

Families are welcome to come with the kids and the family dog, get photos in the paddock and linger over their tree selection.

“We will be open every day during December for cutting. Just remember to bring a car big enough to fit your tree in,” Mr Adoberg joked.

COVID has been a bit of a bonus for the Australian live Christmas tree market, pushing last year's sales up by 29%, as after a tough year, travel-restricted families decided to stay home and buy a really big tree. More than ever, families want to make their Christmas a special family time. 

The whole Christmas tree tradition started back in 1536, when a German called Martin Luther decided to drag a pine into his house and decorate it with candles for Christmas, after seeing the tree's branches lit up naturally by stars in the forest.

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