He’s a heavy diesel mechanic by trade and a ‘Tree Shepherd’ come tinsel time when the bells ring out for Christmas.
For Steven Chinnery-Brown and his wife Kaitlin, their journey as Christmas tree growers started three years ago and their business called Tree Shepherds was born.
The idea sprouted from Kaitlin, who was looking for an eco-friendly Christmas tree option.
“My wife wanted a real Christmas tree, but she didn’t want a cut down tree and then she didn’t want a fake tree either.
"There was nowhere where we could rent a tree so we thought we’d give it a go ourselves,” says Steven.
It was a bold move for a pair with no prior horticultural experience!
“A lot of people give me stick, which is quite funny,” says Steven.
“I’m a heavy diesel mechanic by trade and my wife’s a doctor.
“We’ve just been learning throughout the years as we go and getting to know a lot about horticulture and how to take care of trees etc.
"It’s all been a big learning curve for us.”
For their first Christmas season this year, Tree Shepherds has 300 trees to rent out.
With a mix of Korean Fir, Chinese Fir and Norway Spruce – all the trees are grown in their Whakamarama nursery.
“They’re a sustainable resource and you can actually retain the same tree every year, which would become a part of the family.
"Everything we do, we make it as eco-friendly as we can.
"We’ve got plastic pots, but we reuse the pots every year.
"We replant our trees, so there’s very little wastage.”
And the more Christmas trees, the merrier for these Tree Shepherds.
“By our fifth year I’m hoping we’ll have about 6000 trees,” says Steven.
“The plan is that we will be doing trees full-time.”
Steven says their sustainable trees for rent are a carefree option during Christmas.
“You’re not having to clean up.
"That’s everyone’s complaint with the cut down trees.
"You’ve got to clean them up every single day because they drop pine needles everywhere.”
With their own Christmas tree up and decorated, Steven is now looking forward to “taking time off work, spending time with family and friends and also taking care of the trees!”
To learn more about Tree Shepherds, visit: https://www.treeshepherds.co.nz