A CHAMPION Christmas tree grower has employed the services of five woolly friends to help out as a York plantation gets ready for its busiest time of year.

Oliver Combe, who runs York Christmas Trees in Wigginton has added five sheep to his team to help deliver an ecologically and sustainable Christmas tree growing system.

The Shropshire sheep are the latest innovation designed to enable York Christmas Trees to maximise benefits for the soil and the environment.

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Gazette & Herald: The sheep hard at workThe sheep hard at work (Image: Supplied)

Oliver said: “They are, effectively, four legged mowing machines. It means we do not have to use mowing machinery in the growing fields and the team of sheep also produce organic fertiliser which is an added bonus.

“We are constantly looking for ways to ensure a complete ‘circle of life’ for our trees . That is why we also offer a recycling service that turns them into woodchip to which we add farmyard manure and special bacteria to accelerate the composting process. This is then used as a soil improver around the 20,000 young trees we plant each year.”

Gazette & Herald: Some of the larger specimen treesSome of the larger specimen trees (Image: Supplied)

Helping devise ground breaking ways of producing trees while aiding the environment, has seen York Christmas Trees, once again, recognised at the annual British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) Awards.

This year The Yorkshire Vet, Peter Wright was the guest judge and York Christmas Trees won the BCTGA Innovation Award 2023 for inventing the ‘Doziroller' which helps Christmas tree growers create the best possible shape for a tree.

Gazette & Herald: Oliver with The Yorkshire Vet, Peter Wright presenting York Christmas Trees with the BCTGA Innovation Award 2023Oliver with The Yorkshire Vet, Peter Wright presenting York Christmas Trees with the BCTGA Innovation Award 2023 (Image: Supplied)

Oliver said: “Over the last 25 years, York Christmas Trees become a festive fixture for many local families and amongst our many highlights was winning the competition to supply the Christmas tree for No10 Downing Street in 2020. This latest award is another boost our team and we are determined to keep examining ways of ensuring we help the environment with our planting and growing.”

Gazette & Herald: The Christmas barn opens soonThe Christmas barn opens soon (Image: Supplied)

York Christmas Trees has also been taking part in ground-breaking new research in conjunction with the BCTGA, into the benefits of Christmas tree plantations for the environment. The latest results show the numbers and types of wildlife found in British Christmas tree plantations and highlights the importance they have as part of the countryside environment.

Declining native birds, including lapwing, skylark, linnets and redpolls, were found to benefit from shelter and food sources offered by Christmas tree plantations when they are placed in conjunction with native woodland, scrub, grasslands, and arable fields.

York Christmas Trees opens on November 23 and is open every day until Christmas Eve. 

Gazette & Herald: Wildlife is at the centre of what they doWildlife is at the centre of what they do (Image: Supplied)