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Christmas Tree Growing: Inter-Generation Know How


 It all started in 2004.  Eyebright had only just moved to its present location.   I planted 30 Radiata Pines and 15 Douglas Firs.  The Douglas Firs went scraggly, while the Radiatas grew well if not beautiful.  The trouble with farming is that upping your game is a slow process.  If you’re manufacturing widgets, you can start on an improved widget the moment mark one is complete. With farming you have to wait until next year to make changes and then wait until harvest to see if your changes have improved the product.  Getting it right can take a lifetime.

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.     About the time that I was aware of how much I didn’t know, I was invited to contact David Sampson, Christmas trees grower extraordinaire from just outside of New Plymouth.  David has an extra twenty years on me.  He’s a tenacious innovator who has put in the hard yards.   I flew up and spent a day with him viewing his plantation and learning about his journey.   The knowledge I gained on that day took years off my subsequent journey.

Edward Durbridge-Hunt started working for me after school and during holidays when he was 15.  He helped me plant my first Christmas trees.  Fast forward to 2011; I offered Edward the opportunity to take over growing of the Christmas trees and he jumped at it.   Edward is meticulous and understands how things grow, while his wife, Laurie, has lifted the administration to new levels.  Eyebright does the marketing, and I am to Edward what David Sampson was to me.

Last week, David walked into the shop.  He timed his visit beautifully.  I had time to spare, and so did he.  I took him on a tour of this year’s and next year’s plantation.  He was well pleased.    No, actually that is an understatement.  He was delighted.  I guess when you work hard to create something, it is wonderful to see it live on.   Over the years since my first contact, David had no way of knowing for sure that I was putting into practice his recommendations.  On seeing the plantations, now managed by Edward, he knows that his expertise has lives on.

If it hadn’t been for David Sampson the Eyebright Christmas trees wouldn’t be of the quality they now are.  Thanks David.



Apr 29, 2016 • Peter Owen

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