Living Off the Land – Seasonal Tree Tidings: Saanichton Christmas Tree Farm

by Jo Barnes | photos by Amanda Cribdon Photography –

For 25 years she helped people get their best smile.Now it’s her business that puts a smile on the faces of the people she meets!

As a former certified dental assistant, Joan Fleming, of Saanichton Christmas Tree Farm, worked hard toward client health and happiness, and now she provides joy by offering beautifully grown trees and an old-fashioned family experience.

“Often when people arrive at the farm, they will say, ‘it is magical’,” shares Joan. “I love to see the excitement and joy from people when they come to the farm each year.”

For 40 years now, the thriving five-acre farm situated off East Saanich Road has been growing premium B.C. Christmas Trees. Customers have the option of purchasing a pre-cut tree or cutting down a tree of their choice. Often customers are families who arrive with the goal of getting a tree, but leave with fresh memories of a unique festive experience that last a lifetime.

“It’s a family outing and experience,” comments Joan. “Many have a family photo taken too.”

The farm operation, which also grows stunning dahlias and greenhouse crops, has definitely been a family affair over the years. Along with her brother Mike, Joan purchased the farm property in 1981. Mike at that time had been running a highly successful Christmas tree farm himself.

“My brother had 50 acres at Shawnigan Lake and grew beautiful Christmas trees,” says Joan. “He started it all when he was 16 years old.”

Joan and Mike worked together to tend the farmland and plant 5,000 seedlings. With the birth of her daughter in 1992, Joan decided to leave dentistry work and work the farm full time.

“It takes a lot of work,” says Joan. “It takes four to five years to get trees that are marketable.”

Visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to tree varieties. Saanichton Christmas Tree Farm offers 15 species including Douglas fir, noble fir, Nordmann fir, Norway spruce, Fraser fir, concolor fir, western white pine, natural Douglas fir, grand fir, Jack pine and blue spruce.

Methods and practises at the farm are based on a commitment to future sustainability.
“We do stump culture here. A customer comes out and cuts a tree, but leaves two branches on the stump,” shares Joan. “It will grow a new shoot that will become the next Christmas tree.

It’s a practise done at many other Christmas tree farms. Less money is spent on seedlings, and the time between tree harvests is decreased.

Trees have significant value in the ecosystem. As they grow, they clean the air and provide watersheds and homes for wildlife.

“Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen,” comments Joan. “One hectare of Christmas trees represents the daily oxygen requirement of 43 people.”

Joan takes pride in educating customers about the care of trees, including the importance of tree chipping.

“We encourage people not to burn the tree after Christmas, but to bring it here or take it to another outlet so it can be chipped. The chips can be made into hiking paths, used as cover for gardens, and to rebuild topsoil,” says Joan. “Chipped trees can make one inch of topsoil in two years.”

The arrival of the pandemic brought challenge for many businesses, but for this farm, it brought a surprising rise in customer numbers.

“People were forced to stay home at Christmas due to Covid,” shares Joan, adding with a smile: “There was an increased demand for natural trees and natural home décor!”

Christmas 2021 is fast approaching, and Joan has noticed customers are arriving earlier this year.

“People came for their trees by mid-November rather than the usual late November or early December,” notes Joan.
Once again masks and social distancing are in place and hot apple cider is being served. For those wanting to cut down a tree, sanitized saws and measuring sticks will be provided. The farm is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. For those who wish to cut down their own trees, the fields are closed after 4 p.m. For details, visit

As well as Christmas trees, customers can also purchase a variety of seasonal decorative greenery for the home including door swags, centrepieces, and wreaths.

“I like being creative and took a wreath-making design course,” says Joan. “We offer a variety of wreaths with different shapes, star, circle, mantel wreaths, and heart shaped.”

Making magical memories and supporting sustainability: Saanichton Christmas Tree Farm offers a wonderful way to celebrate the season with a renewable, recyclable resource.

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