Let me clarify. I always have found it amazing when we lived in New York that we could drive an hour or two and wind up in some rustic town along the Hudson or a farm in Pennsylvania. Leaving Providence, however, it takes only a few minutes to reach a bucolic setting, as if everything in Rhode Island is miniaturized even the distance between city and country.
Geoff had read about Duquette Tree Farm in Chepachet, RI so we headed west. Our mistake was stopping for a late lunch along the way at Bishop Hill Tavern– not because the food was bad, because, in fact, it was pretty good for a random bar/restaurant, especially one that posts a sign, “Warm Beer. Cold Food. Slow Service. Have a Nice Day.” The problem was that our lunch ended after 4 pm which, in winter, is night or at least looks like it. We didn’t know when the farm closed but guessed it’d be hard to pick a tree in the dark. Nevertheless, we decided to visit Chepachet for the state’s oldest store, Brown & Hopkins Country Store, and happened upon a line of charming antique stores, which we made our way into just a few minutes before they closed at 5.
On Sunday afternoon, we were ready to try again. This time I started with some research and called around. Turned out Duquette Tree Farm didn’t have larger 8-9 foot trees left, but they recommended Lockwood’s Tree Farm not too far from them. I also tried calling Big John Leyden’s Christmas Tree Farm but they never answered the phone. Instead of taking the good advice of a farmer, we decided to be adventurous and drove out to Greene Tree Farm & Nursery because I read they had maple syrup, and well, I’m the kind of person who will go those extra 10 miles for good maple syrup. Plus, over the phone, they said they had 8-9 foot trees, and the cost was $40 for any tree.
Picking a tree in the rain is not nearly as romantic as picking one in the snow, and we trudged around the farm amid drizzles looking at trees. They had plenty that were tall enough, but many were planted a bit too close together so they inevitably were thinner on one side than the other. Also most of their trees were a yellower green, which if I knew anything about them probably indicated that they were cypress instead of fir or something like that. Worse yet, their dilapidated maple syrup stand was filled only with debris.So we got back in the car, stopping along the way at Pezza Farm in Johnston, RI which didn’t have larger trees and whose wreaths were $50 each. Hence, back in the car to Lockwood’s Tree Farm in Smithfield, RI. As we drove up to their red barn placed alongside their field of trees and a pond for skating (although a bit wet for that currently), we knew we had found the place for us. With very little effort, we found a wonderful tree — tall, full, green, and trimmed — for a reasonable price of $45. Apparently the rain had curtailed business that day so they were glad to see us too. Even better, the owners welcome visitors into a heated room where they offer candy, cupcakes, and hot cocoa for the kids and cider and coffee for the adults — all for free. And every tree comes with a string of lights. Now that’s country charm that’s well worth the 15-mile drive from Providence.
Lockwood’s Tree Farm
129 Austin Avenue
Duquette Tree Farm
87 Reservoir Road
RI Christmas Tree Growers Association www.richristmastrees.com
Farm Fresh RI’s list of Christmas tree farm vendors: www.farmfresh.org/food/food.php?zip=02909&food=130