When David Morris and his wife Jaime bought the a trash-and-junk-covered lot along Old Redwood Highway in Windsor a year ago, they weren’t sure exactly what they were going to do with it. David is a lieutenant with the San Francisco Fire Department and Jaime is the senior HR manager for Vintage Wine Estates, and they’ve called Windsor home for 15 years.
“(David) wanted to do something, create something for our boys that was bigger than just our fire fighter and career mom jobs,” said Jaime. “So he went through some ideas—he wanted to build a car wash because that’s something we need. Light industrial warehouses, he thought. He’s been working to create something for a long time. And then we thought well, let’s do a Christmas tree farm, we don’t have one, and that’s just kind of where it sparked.”
The one thing they did know was that they wanted whatever they ultimately settled on to be a family affair that would include their three sons Dominic, Wyatt and Jack, and would also be of service to their hometown.
“One of my things about Windsor is that you have to leave town for a lot of stuff and I don’t like that,” David said. “I want to be able to stay here and buy here and do everything that we need to do here in town. And even though this is just a small little seasonal thing, its just one more way we can stay local and keep it in town.”
“Why a Christmas tree place? We need it,” said Jaime. “Windsor needs it. Windsor needs more services for families. I think a lot of us go up to Healdsburg or down to Santa Rosa to do things. Why not have it right here in town? It’s a new tradition for families here that we had elsewhere but now we get to have right here in town and see your neighbors and create community. Especially after everything we’ve been through.”
The road from idea to fruition isn’t usually an easy one, and David has put in long hours bringing his dream to fruition. He started by finding a mentor, a gentleman who has had a tree lot in Marin County for 42 years. “He really showed me, told me where I should be, where I could go and just really the proper way to start out. Not to come out guns blazing. He taught me how to be smart about it starting out with my brand new lot,” David said.
From there, there were two large obstacles, one was getting a permit from the town to open their lot and the other was finding the right trees to populate it. Both of these obstacles were made even more challenging by the tight time frame the Morris family had set themselves.
“We literally decided to do this a month ago, so just the pure fact of getting town approval (was an issue),” David said. “(They) were really helpful in getting us the permit for here in a short period of time and then also just being able to get the trees. Those were the two big things, can we get the permit and can we get the trees? We’ve got the property so its just a matter of figuring those two things out, and then it was just full blast sun up to sun down for three weeks trying to make this a reality.
“And, this property here has been neglected for about 40 years so it was full of 40 years of trash and debris and lack of care so we completely cleaned the entire property up and brought it back to something useable,” he concluded.
To solve the second obstacle, David decided to work with a tree farm with a similar, more personal approach. Youngberg Tree Farm in Oregon is a third-generation tree farm, started by a couple who bought 80 acres after the end of World War II. Now their grandson, who has been working on the farm since the age of ten, runs operations.
“They are a smaller, higher quality tree farm,” David said. “They only ship 35,000 trees a year where some of the big ones that serve places like Home Depot are pumping out over a million trees a year. Those trees are cut months in advance, but these guys, because they have a select few customers they’re able to cut fresh and send to us right away.”
For the first year, the Morris family will be bring in 500 trees, though they’re ready to order more if the need arises. There will be four varieties of trees available, Noble firs, Nordmann firs, Douglas firs and a select few Silver Tip firs. Available trees range in size from table top up to 10 plus feet.
“That we actually pulled it off, I still can’t believe it,” admitted David. “Though I guess until the doors are open and trees are leaving the property it’s going to be hard to believe it that this all came together. We’ve been advertising primarily through social media and the real response from the community has been awesome and the support we’ve gotten from friends, family and total strangers in town. I think when people are hearing this is an actual local family, with kids that go to school here, I coach sports here in town, we are 100% local Windsor residents that are trying to do something for the town and just cleanup another little portions of this town, and bring something new to this town.”
A portion of the proceeds from the tree lot will be split between the Windsor Knights youth sports league and the California Fire Foundation to support fire fighters and fire victims.
Doors opened on Nov. 29 and will stay open until Christmas Eve. The tree lot is open seven days a week, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.