CHRISTMAS trees are a big part of the Horsefield family festivities.
But their Christmas tree tradition goes way beyond the living room.
The Horsefield’s penchant for Christmas trees is on an industrial scale – with more than 30 acres of trees on the family’s Pot House Hamlet patch of land in Silkstone, Barnsley.
And now it’s the busiest time of year for the family.
Emma Horsefield has been working at Pot House Hamlet for seven years. She said: “People in this area and Penistone love real Christmas trees – there is a huge demand for them around here especially the Nordman Fir, which is great because it hardly drops any needles.”
Emma, aka the ‘Queen of Christmas’, takes care of 36 acres of Christmas trees along with her father, Tom Horsefield and brother, ‘Young Tom.’
“I am a Jack of all trades – my job includes growing the trees, pruning the trees, taking care of wages – all sorts.”
When the trees are cut – one of Young Tom’s jobs – Emma brings them into the shop and spruces them up for sale.
“You can see all our Christmas trees here,” she says, pointing to a wall of Christmas trees ranging from six feet to 40 feet tall. We supply the big ones to places like Thorpe Hesley Church and branches and the HSBC headquarters.”
It’s dusk on a weekday evening, yet the silver-tone of the Christmas trees glimmers in the light. “You can see the silvery colour come through on the underside of the branches,” says Emma.
Emma is every part the outdoor woman, fresh-faced and clad in wellies and a quilted jacket.
It’s hard to imagine that the boot-clad gardener standing amidst the pine trees was once at the pinnacle of a glamorous TV career working with the biggest pop stars of the 90s and 2000s.
Emma, after graduating from Newcastle University and doing a ski season, moved to London where worked as production manager for MTV, when the music channel was at its peak, before the market was swamped by extra channels and MySpace.
Perhaps not as hard work as her present job, however.
The Horsefields make sure that they have a rotating stock of Christmas trees, which means planting and nurturing trees all year round as part of a 40-year cycle which, year-on-year, provides enough trees to sell to the South Yorkshire public, including the local school in Silkstone.
“The teachers bring some of the children and they go out to the field and choose their own tree. It makes it a really memorable experience for them,” Emma said.
And while the growing, nurturing, cutting and selling of Christmas trees is a well-established tradition for the Horsefields, the tradition of decorating evergreens for Christmas goes back much further, of course.