Charlie Brown stuck with 'Charlie Brown trees'

HOLLAND TWP., N.J. - December 10, 2010

76-year-old Charlie Brown is the owner of the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Farm in Holland Township, New Jersey.

And, right now, he knows how that hapless cartoon character must feel.

  That's because instead of the acres of green Douglas Firs he's grown for the last 25 years, he's now got fields of  trees with bare limbs and fallen needles.

It's making them look like - well - Charlie Brown Christmas trees!

  "We've pretty much decided it was because of the drought we had last summer," Brown said. "We did have spring rain and fall rain but we didn't have anything to carry us through."

However, this Charlie Brown is no blockhead. He's got tree experts from Rutgers working on the problem, but in the meantime whatever's hurting his trees is killing business.

  Typically in December, Charlie Brown's farm is packed with families cutting down their trees. He sells about 4,000 annually.

But because of what's happened, this year he's selling only pre-cut trees bought from other farmers. His fields are closed.

  "I can't let people out here during this. I don't want them to think this is the kind of tree we have normally," said Brown.

Charlie and his right-hand man, Kyle Trimmer, are hoping all is not lost.

  "If it turns out to be only the drought there's a very good chance they will come back."

Luckily, Charlie Brown still has his sense of humor and loves to tell the story of when lawyers for Peanuts creator Charles Schultz tried to get him to stop using the name Charlie Brown at his tree farm.

  "They said 'We have the Charlie Brown character' and I said 'I'm the Charlie Brown character long before you had him and I'm not suing you!" he said.

I couldn't leave without saying "You're a good man, Charlie Brown."

"Well, we like to think so," Brown said in response. "We've' had a great deal of fun with this property and we'd like to bring it back as fast as we can." 

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