The farm at 2331 Old King’s Bridge Road in Nicholson has been in our family since 1943. The original owner was my uncle, C. Paul Smith, and his wife, Reba.
My mom and dad, Roy and Beulah Tolbert Smith, have lived in the adjacent home at 2285 since 1947 when they were married. He was the rural mail carrier for the Nicholson area for 31 years.
The family continued to grow with 7 brothers and sisters: Gail, Greg, Gloria, Gary, Greta, Glenn and Gina. You probably wondered why we call the farm the 7 G’s!
The property has always been farmed in one manner or another: chicken houses, cattle, crops, pine trees, garden crops, and, later, leased for wheat and soybeans to one of our neighbors.
When my uncle died in 1999, the land was passed on to my father who in turn gave it to the G’s. My brother Gary created the 7 G’s L.L.C., and decided we needed something to pay the taxes rather than farming. Christmas trees were something that seemed to be of interest. We all had regular jobs and little time to “farm,” and the trees would grow with little or no work involved. So he up and bought 2500 seedlings from a supplier in south Georgia and off we went on this little adventure. We soon found that our “little or no work involved” idea was wrong! It became a full time job for my sister Greta’s husband and all the time my brother and I could put towards it. In 2002, he grew tired of paying out money for seedlings and decided we should propagate our own. A greenhouse was constructed and the nursery division began in earnest.
Suddenly, in October 2006 my brother Gary passed away. We all felt lost for a while, but with Christmas fast approaching we had to put our grief on hold and get the crop sold for the year. Liza, Gary’s wife, took on the responsibility of keeping the farm running. Terry Ivey, Greta’s husband, continued his efforts as well. Brad Ivey, son of Greta and Terry, maintains our equipment. In the fall of 2007, I retired from my day job at Athens Regional Medical Center and jumped in head-first to assist as needed. My wife, Jennie, and Greta maintain the gift / craft shop during the Christmas sale season. My mom, Beulah, continues her efforts to keep us all fed during the year and be the glue for the family. My brother, Glenn, while living in Macon, gives us sound business advice and helps out during the sale season as often as he can. My daughter, Amy, who works for Georgia Southern University, maintains our website. My sister, Gloria Agnew, living in Clarkesville, GA, comes down regularly to help out as needed. My sister, Gina Cavender, living in Franklin, Tennessee, brings her family down during the holidays to decorate mom’s tree. My father, who passed away in 2004, my brother Gary, and my sister Gail, who passed away in 1989, continue to be our inspiration while we strive to keep Gary’s vision alive and moving forward.
We are active members of the Georgia Christmas Tree Growers Association which keeps us busy with State Fair events and Trees for Troops (I am the coordinator for the state, and northern district director). Liza is a past editor of the publication Tree Talk, and we assisted with the national grower’s association convention in Chattanooga this past August. We enjoy providing Christmas trees to our neighbors and clients that stretch from as far away as Louisiana, Florida, and the Carolinas.
We welcome you all to come out to the farm and enjoy our “oxygen enriched atmosphere” – one acre of Christmas trees provides enough oxygen for 18 people. We currently have about 25 acres with just over 6000 trees. Our current crop is primarily Leyland cypress but we will be offering eastern red cedar, Murray cypress, Naylor’s blue cypress, Carolina sapphire, and blue ice varieties in the coming years. For those that need decorating greenery we always have a few “Charlie Brown’s” to choose from. We will also have a few wreaths on display and will begin offering homemade jams and jellies this year.
— Greg N. Smith