The Home Depot is the nation’s largest seller of fresh-cut Christmas trees. Despite the enormity of the operation, it’s still possible to put a face with your holiday tree. That’s because The Home Depot sources trees from a network of growers, many of whom are family farms that work exclusively with The Home Depot.
If you happen to buy a Fraser fir from a Home Depot store in the Southeast, it’s possible that tree came from Sexton Farms. This fourth-generation, family-owned and -operated farm is nestled in the mountains of southwestern Virginia and northwestern North Carolina. Sexton Farms grows and supplies The Home Depot with a variety of Christmas trees and wreaths. They specialize in Fraser firs, which many consider to be “the Cadillac of Christmas trees.”
Sexton Farms was founded in 1960 by Byron Sexton. As the story goes, Sexton got the idea for a tree farm after seeing people enter forests in pursuit of a fresh-cut Christmas tree. In 1960, the idea of a tree farm was so novel that when Sexton approached a local agricultural agent about the idea, the agent essentially shrugged it off. By then, Sexton had already planted 80 trees, and the family farm was born.
Ironically, a common misconception is that the fresh-cut Christmas trees sold in retail lots are cut from wild forests. In truth, all the trees sold at The Home Depot are managed crops, grown in compliance with the Department of Agriculture.
Today, Sexton Farms manages thousands of trees in various stages of growth and is still very much a family farm. It’s run by third-generation farmer Greg Sexton and his wife Robin, who share the work with their three sons, Andrew, Matthew and Thomas, all of whom returned to the family farm after graduating from college.
“We want to provide the perfect Christmas tree for every family,” Greg says.
Growing trees takes a lot of work and time, with the average 6–7’ Christmas tree needing 7–10 years to grow. And it’s a sustainable crop. For every tree cut, another 3–4 seedlings are planted in their place. “Most fresh-cut trees don’t go into a landfill and sit for 1,000 years, they go back into the soil,” Sexton says. “You can have your tree mulched. They can be used for dune restoration at beaches or submerged for habitat in lakes.”
As an overall operation, Christmas tree farms like the Sexton’s are contributing to air quality and carbon reduction. “The trees are producing oxygen, and they’re giving back the entire time that we’re growing these trees. One acre will produce enough oxygen for 18 people. In our county alone, it’s given enough oxygen for more than 255,000 people per day,” Greg explains. “The trees are great for the environment, and we’re so proud that this product is sustainable.”
Fresh-cut Christmas trees from Sexton Farms and others will be arriving at The Home Depot beginning late November through Christmas. If you prefer to have your tree delivered, shop our assortment of fresh-cut trees online.