Farming couple diversifies into festive trees for children

2:50pm Friday 29th November 2013

By Janet Gleeson

A FARMING family is diversifying into Christmas trees with an eye on the future for their children.

To launch the venture Martin and Julia Harland, of The Mill at South Otterington, near Northallerton, are holding an open night tomorrow when they’ll also be raising money for Cancer Research.

“Normally we’d be knocking on Sam Turner’s door for our tree, but we decided earlier in the year we wanted to try and do something different, and Christmas trees looked interesting, so now we are up to our ears in them,” said Mrs Harland.

The couple moved into the farm in 1994 taking over following the death of Martin’s grandfather Laurie Barker.

They have 50 acres on the doorstep, with further family land at Great Smeaton and other rented land. On the farm they have livestock for fattening, plus two holiday cottages, but there’s also a large range of old agricultural brick buildings.

“They are no good for modern farming, we can hardly get a tractor through the door, so we thought they would be ideal for Christmas trees.

We’ve got a couple of hundred, which we’ve arranged so people can see them properly,” said Mr Harland, who also has a full time job with agricultural merchants Armstrong Richardson at Stokesley.

“People talk about diversifying and I think it’s important in farming to look at new things. It has been a difficult couple of years on the arable side, the weather has been bad and all costs have been going up, so this is another string to our bow, you have to work with what you have.”

It’s also an investment in the future, the couple’s son and daughter Richard 19, and Lucy, 17, are both interested in agriculture.

“We will see how it goes, if it’s successful we may look at planting our own trees, but they do have to be carefully looked after and nurtured, and it takes around seven years to get them ready,” added Mr Harland.

Mrs Harland is also making wreaths and Christmas decorations which will be sold on the farm. The launch is from 6pm to 9pm with mince pies and mulled wine available, and donations going to Yorkshire Cancer Research.

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