By Jesse Wood
People all over the country will learn about the Cornett-Deal Christmas Tree Farm, located in the Mountain Dale community of Watauga County, because of a national media campaign being produced by the Christmas Tree Promotion Board.
In September, a video crew visited five farms in the United States: one in Illinois, Washington, New York and two in North Carolina, Cline Church Nursery in Fleetwood and Cornett’s Carolina Trees in Watauga.
This campaign is focused at reaching millennials through social media. The Christmas Tree Promotion Board is funded through the federal commodity checkoff program, and the goal of the board is to promote the fresh-cut industry over artificial trees. See the video campaign above.
The land of the Cornett-Deal Christmas Tree farm has been in the Cornett family for generations. Diane Cornett Deal purchased a farm that had originally been owned by her ancestors. Her great-great-grandfather, Jack Cornett, settled in the Mountain Dale community at the turn of the century.
In 1979, Diane’s father, Clint, planted the first Christmas trees on family land. Since then, several generations of the Cornett family has been involved in the Christmas tree industry.
Diane operates the choose-and-cut farm, complete with hayrides, a craft shop, hot chocolate and tree bundling/loading, while Dale Cornett, Diane’s brother, operates the wholesale operation, Cornett’s Christmas Trees. Along with his family land, Dale leases land from nine other farms, about 100 acres in all, to harvest 12,000 wholesale Christmas trees each year.
“We’ve lived in this one valley for generations,” Dale said, describing the area over the years as a self-sustaining mountain community.
He noted years ago, there was a millhouse where the corn, buckwheat and wheat were ground. A grinding wheel sharpened the tools. Underneath the millhouse, and utilizing the same water wheel, was a sawmill to cut lumber. In the same valley was a blacksmith shop. Over the years, they harvested timbers and used the cleared fields to plant tobacco and corn and then family gardens.
Today, he said the Christmas trees provide the ability to maintain the property as farmland instead of developing the land with an onslaught of townhouses, condos and summer homes.
“We keep the beauty of the mountains in tact,” Dale said. “Once developed, it can never be reclaimed as farmland. Part of the reason people come to these mountains is the beauty of the hillsides.”
Both Dale and Diane said that being able to work with family is among the highlights of working the Cornett-Deal Christmas Tree Farm. “We are looking at four soon to be five generations that have been involved in the Christmas tree industry,” Diane said. “The fifth-generation baby has not been born yet, but he’s on the way”
Dale also mentioned the ability to work outdoors and the renewable nature of farming as to what he enjoys about working in the Christmas tree industry..
“It’s a sustainable, renewable product that can continue for generations,” Dale said.
For more information, contact the Cornett-Deal Christmas Tree Farm at 828-964-6322 or click to www.cornettcarolinatrees.com.