Vincent's keeps Christmas tree tradition
“I wanted to pick it out and cut it down and decorate it,” said 3-year-old Damon Trahan about his family’s newest tradition - cutting down the family Christmas Tree at Vincent’s Christmas Tree Farm.
“We just got married November 15 so we wanted to start a family tradition,” Damon’s mother, Jessica Trahan commented about why they chose to pick out their tree from Vincent’s, rather than buying one that was already cut. “Hopefully this will become a yearly family ritual,” she added.
For the past 30 years, 79-year-old Lloyd Vincent has been growing and selling live Christmas trees to the people of Vermilion Parish and beyond. A tradition he started with his brother Dua Vincent, who is now deceased, Vincent said he is dedicated to planting and maintaining Christmas trees, as well as satsumas, kumquats, Ruby Red grapefruit, lemons, Louisiana Sweet native oranges and Washington navel oranges. Over the years Vincent, who was born and raised on the property, said he has raised close to 150,000 trees which he then allows customers to choose and cut down themselves as Christmas trees.
“We were the first ones to start,” Vincent said about how he got the idea to start growing Christmas trees. “I read about a farm in East Texas in Progressive Farmers magazine, and (decided) to start one here,” he said. Vincent said he and his brother, Dua, started with 500 trees, which soon multiplied into 18,000. Since then, Vincent has been raising some 5,000 trees including several different varieties on his 6 acres of land. Each year, Vincent said he sells approximately 800 trees.
Vincent said it takes four years for the trees to reach an acceptable height to sell as Christmas trees. By then, Vincent approximates the trees will stand between 7 and 10 feet tall. The most popular variety that Vincent grows is the Leyland Cypress, which despite its name is not native to Louisiana. The Leyland is a rich evergreen colored tree with soft, sprawling needles, not like the spikey, sharp-ended pine, and can grow as tall as 17 feet.
In addition to the Leyland Cypress, Vincent grows Carolina Sapphires, which are light green with unique needles and have a very fragrant citrus-like smell. He also grows Silver Smokes trees which are tall and slender with light green needles. Vincent is also experimenting with a new species, the Jolly Green Giant, which he said should be ready to sell in two more years.
“You’ll save money, too, and you’re buying a fresh tree that’ll last longer than if you buy one that’s already cut,” Vincent said about what makes his farm so popular at this time of year. At a quick glance of the property, you can easily find a tree for $40, or pay as much as $70 for a 17-footer, which is considerably cheaper than some tree lots or nurseries in the area. But the best part is you get to pick the tree yourself.
Why choose Vincents? “For the fun of it!” Trahan said about why she decided to take her family to Vincent’s for the first time. “You can choose your tree and they’re grown here so you’re supporting local business,” she said. “And they’re cheaper, too,” her husband Gabriel commented. Trahan said she appreciates buying a living tree because the quality is better, which means they will last longer. The Trahan family, who live in Crowley, said they were happy to pick out their first family Christmas tree and can’t wait to go home and decorate it. Little Damon thinks he’ll get better presents because his new tree will impress Santa. Gabriel added that it was a good family experience to pick out the tree together and to let Damon help to cut the tree down.
Vincent’s Tree Farm is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information call 643-6380.