April, Meet the team
Posted on 7th May 2019 at 14:19
H A Trim has been at its present location for almost 15 years. Hans and Julie Alexandersen have developed the business from looking after other peoples trees to the 835,000 trees of their own in the ground today.
Over the next 12 months we will walk you through a year in the life of a Christmas Tree farm including interviews with the staff involved in this crazy business.
March was better weather wise than last year so we have been able to get all our transplants in the ground before the weather became too wet. April is for pruning and shearing the trees before they start to "flush". It is good to get them into a good shape before the trees get their new growth. Now is also the time for fertilising the trees, this we do with the sprayer where possble and by hand where it is more difficult to access them. The pictures below show some planting, helped by the latest member of the family, Bucky and the handling necessary on the trees at this time.
The first member of the team we will meet is Hans. He owns H A Trim along with his wife Julie.
I asked Hans a few questions about himself and the business:-
Where were you born and how long have you lived here in England?
I was born in Denmark. I came to England to study Arboriculture at Harper Adams University in 1987 .
Where did your interest in Christmas Trees come from?
I did my final dissertation at University on Christmas trees and that was it really. Once I finished my studies I secured a job at a Christmas tree farm and my future was sealed!
How did you meet Julie?
We both worked at the same farm, Julie was in the offices. After a few years we decided to start planting our own trees instead of looking after trees for other people. That lead us to Surrey and to Cranleigh and Santa Fir.
How do you feel your business has changed over the last 15 years?
We are growing year on year in both our wholesale and retail. We have Christmas trees from 2ft to to 20 ft+ tall. We are planting each year and we are beginning to produce our own pot grown trees. Our operation is becoming more efficient due to the introduction of more advanced machinery. Peoples growing concern for the environment and the carbon footprint of goods for sale is making the purchase of locally grown Christmas trees a must.
Are you a member of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA)?
We have been members for many years. I am currently the Vice Chairman. The association is important to bring growers together and encourage a high, consistent quality of trees for the consumer. We get together at meetings throughought the year and share methods and techniques. The BCTGA hold a Christmas Tree competition every year and we have been fortunate enough to win with our trees and wreaths and have had the honour of visiting No. 10 Downing Street on several occasions.
Where do you see yourself in the 10 years time?
I am beginning to step back a little from the running of the business and starting to hand over the reigns. We want to plant more trees and I am always on the look out for more land. I also think we need to start to diversify. We have only one small period of time to earn money in this business so this puts huge pressure on getting it absolutely right as it will affect the rest of the years plans.
I would like to start to grow grape vines. I have been thinking about this for a long time now and think this is the perfect compliment to what we do already.
What is your favourite tree for the house at Christmas?
I love the Spruce tree for the smell but as the family like a lovely warm house the obvious choice has to be the better needle holding Nordman Fir tree. Decorated with only a few decorations to show off the beautiful tree. Outside the house we like to have a very tall tree with giant baubles on it.
How will you be spending Christmas Day this year?
Probably as we have for the last few years. As a family we help at the local Church rooms to provide Christmas dinner for 60+ Cranleigh residents who would otherwise be alone on Christmas day. We have our celebration later on in the day.
Thank you Hans.
Next month we meet Julie, the power behind Hans and Partner in H A Trim.
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