In every picture-perfect Christmas scene there is a family gathered around a green and twinkling Christmas tree where beautifully wrapped presents await underneath.
For over 16 years, families across Devon have been embarking on a journey into the idyllic Whimple countryside to visit Helen and Lester Bowker’s Cotley Christmas Tree Farm, to select their perfect Christmas tree.
From small beginnings as a livestock farm, the Christmas tree farming duo now have 25 acres of carefully nurtured Christmas trees ready and waiting to adorn your home this festive season. 2017 saw the launch of their exclusive a ‘Choose a Tree’ weekend, giving visitors the opportunity to handpick their very own Christmas tree from the field, and this year it’s back and bigger than ever. In recent years, the couple have added a few more strings to their bow with the addition of a festive shop, packed full of decorations and West Country produce, and a turkey click-and-collect service - they really do have Christmas all wrapped up!
Cotley Farm is also a working farm, home to a range of animals that you can visit in the barns when the farm opens to the public on Friday 30 November. The herd of reindeer include a few of Santa’s favourites; Dancer, Prancer and Willow who is celebrating her second birthday this year.
‘For us, it’s Christmas all year round. Whether we’re in our sun hats or winter coats, we love nothing more than being out in the fields caring for our trees and reindeer. As the festive season rolls around, we still get just as excited every year to welcome new and returning families to the farm,’ says Helen, owner and farmer at Cotley Christmas Tree Farm.
The hugely popular ‘Choose a Tree’ weekend returns for two weekends on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18, and Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 November. Explore the enchanting Christmas tree fields by tractor and trailer, find your perfect tree, label it and select a date to pick it up. The farm grows two tree types available to choose; the traditional Norway Spruce, and Nordmann Fir.
Christmas tree farmer and owner, Lester, will ensure your tree is freshly cut for collection closer to Christmas. The booking only event is only £5.50 for adults and two children, with any additional child tickets available for £3. All tickets include a hot chocolate, a tractor ride and a mince pie to really give you that festive feeling.
Helen and Lester were most recently awarded the CAAV John Neason Diversification Award at the Devon Farm Business Awards for developing Cotley Christmas alongside their main farm business.
“We were absolutely delighted to receive the Diversification Award. When we set up the farm we wanted to a create a special place where the local community could come and choose a Christmas tree and we’ve really tried to make the farm a magical experience where families can enjoy all the best bits the festive season has to offer,” Helen continues.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a traditional turkey lunch. Helen and Lester have partnered with Glebelands Farm, based in East Devon, who have been producing Christmas poultry for more than three generations. The turkeys are available to order at the farm or by click-and-collect and come with a pop-up timer, cooking instructions and recipe book, ensuring you have everything you need for the big day.
There will be a whole host of jolly events taking place at the farm again this year, including a Charity Choir performance, festive floral demonstrations and a magical storytelling evening. Tickets for these events will be available soon. Please see the Facebook page for updates.
Helen added a final few words, ‘For us, the farm is so much more than just Christmas trees. It has become, for many, a family tradition to come and see both myself and Lester, and we love seeing so many familiar faces return year on year. If this year will be your first visit to the farm, we cannot wait to welcome you with a mince pie… or two!’
For more information, visit our website at www.cotleychristmas.co.uk