It’s been a busy season for Ryan Murphy at his Christmas tree farm in Maple Ridge.
He opened up Murphy’s Christmas Tree Farm for business on Nov. 28 and with two weeks to go before Christmas, he expects to be closed by Monday.
“Normally it’s a bit of a marathon,” said the Christmas tree farmer who has been in business for six years.
“This year it was a sprint,” he noted.
Murphy believes there are a couple of things at play. One is because of the COVID-19 pandemic people needed something to cheer them up.
“I think Christmas trees fulfill that need. It’s something living and breathing, so it went up in the house a little earlier,” he said.
But, over the past three years, more customers have been driving out to his farm tucked away at the north end of 252nd Street along 124 Avenue.
What Murphy is seeing is more first-time home buyers putting up a fresh tree.
Michael Vogel and his partner Stephanie Marcil were visiting the farm from Port Coquitlam, where they had recently purchased a home.
As they strapped a 14 foot tree to the top of their Honda Civic, they noted that it was hard to find a tree farm that was still open.
Jen Oke from Pitt Meadows said the same thing.
“It’s not even late in the season,” Oke said.
And Oke said, it was very different this year, having to wear masks in the field.
Other safety precautions Murphy took this year was installing hand sanitizer stations, only allowing one person in the store at a time and employing more staff to keep the washroom facilities clean on a regular basis and to sanitize the hand saws.
On the weekends, Murphy estimates that he probably had between 60 and 70 people on his four-acre plot. And, he said, individual group sizes were smaller and people were able to socially distance.
In past years Murphy and his wife only had the farm opened for weekends. This year, however, they decided to open seven days a week, in anticipation of a busier season.
The decision to open during the week, Murphy noted, kept the lines to a minimum on the weekend with customers waiting an average of 15 to 20 minutes.