’Tis the season for cutting trees on the North Fork

Zuhoski Tree Farms in Cutchogue is one of several farms opening for the season this weekend. (Credit: David Benthal)

Zuhoski Farms spans approximately 70 acres on bucolic Oregon Road in Cutchogue. 

Originally a potato farm, the property was repurposed by brothers Steven and David Zuhoski in 1996 and is now a year-round nursery selling a variety of plants used for landscaping and privacy screening.

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, however, a good portion of the farm is transformed into a winter wonderland, where families sit around a fire pit, sip hot chocolate, visit Santa Claus and cut down their own Christmas trees.

We recently visited the farm for this month’s cover shoot and, as we walked the property searching for our tree, we asked Steven about the holiday season at the farm.

Northforker: How long has this property been in your family?

Steven Zuhoski: Most of this land has been in the family since 1924. We originally had about 60 acres. My grandfather grew potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage and beans. Eventually, my father took over about 40 acres and my uncle took over the other piece, which he eventually sold. We recently had the opportunity to expand and buy those 20 acres back. So what was once in our family is now back in it.

NF: How did you come to start selling Christmas trees?

SZ: At first we grew some trees and we’d sell them up at the old Chase Bank property in Mattituck. After that was sold, we moved to Route 48 and Bridge Lane. People started asking us where the trees came from and when they realized it was just a couple miles up the road, we began letting people come down and cut their own. Then we opened it up to everyone on the weekends.

A sunset on the Oregon Road Farm. (Credit: David Benthal)

NF: Why do people love cutting down their own tree so much?

SZ: I think just coming out to the farm and the whole experience. It’s beautiful out here on a nice day, when it’s 35 to 40 degrees and you’re out here cutting down the tree, enjoying a day out on the North Fork visiting the restaurants or the wineries. We get a lot of the same people year after year.

NF: I’d imagine this is also something families do just for fun.

SZ: The kids love it. Even just running down the rows of trees. Kids can do that all day long.

NF: What do I need to bring if I’m coming to cut down my own tree?

SZ: We have everything right here so you don’t have to bring anything, you can just come on down. Some people bring blankets for the roof of their car and some people bring something to tie the tree down, but you don’t have to.

NF: What kind of trees do you have here?

SZ: We have about eight to 10 acres of cut-your-own Douglas fir. We also dig up Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce and more Douglas fir.

NF: How long do they take to grow to full size?

SZ: About 6 to 8 years. It’s a slow process.

A vintage truck at Zuhoski Farms. (Credit: David Benthal)

NF: What kinds of questions do people ask you about the trees?

SZ: A lot about the size. A lot of times, people worry the trees are too fat or too small. They don’t really understand the size from the farm. Then they get home and can’t get it through the door. I tell them they have to stand next to it and take a good look at it. It’s a good size, but people don’t necessarily realize it when they’re out here.

NF: What if I have a cat that likes to climb the tree? What kind of tree would you recommend?

SZ: Some people will cut a Blue Spruce. It’s rough on the cat’s paws because it has a stiff needle, but you have to know ahead of time that it doesn’t have the fragrance of a Douglas fir or a Fraser fir. If that doesn’t work, you can always put your cat in another room (laughs).

NF: How would you describe that fragrance?

SZ: It smells like Christmas.

NF: Why do some people lean toward a smaller tree? Is it all about space?

SZ: It is partly about how much room you have, but also the work in decorating it. It’s easier with a smaller tree and you still get the look and fragrance of a real tree and the experience of cutting it down.

NF: Do you cut down your own tree?

SZ: I do, but I wait. I’ll take a tree that’s not too appealing to everyone else. If you decorate it and you put enough presents under it, it’s fine.

Cayden Sokol (from left) with Jake, John and Trish Desousa of Montauk with the tree they cut themselves last December at Dart’s Tree Farm in Southold. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

Dart’s Christmas Tree Farm
2355 Main Bayview Road, Southold, NY
631-765-4148.
Open daily after Thanksgiving, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm
30105 Main Road, Cutchogue, NY
631-734-8641
Open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Shamrock Christmas Tree Farm
20685 Main Road, Mattituck, NY
631-298-4619
Open daily after Thanksgiving, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Verderber’s Landscape Nursery & Garden Center
459 Main Road, Mattituck, NY
631-722-4388
Open Tuesday through Saturday,  8 a.m. through 5 p.m., Sundays, 8 a.m. through 4 a.m.

Zuhoski Farms
11825 Oregon Road, Cutchogue, NY
631-734-5036
Open Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. until dark.