Etobicoke urban farmer gives away free Christmas trees
Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Friday, December 21, 2018 8:04PM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 21, 2018 8:14PM EST
For the last three years, an Etobicoke urban farmer has piled Christmas trees on his front yard, free for the taking by any family or person who may not be able to purchase a real pine of their own.
All he asks for in return is a photograph showing what the tree looks like fully decorated.
“What you have, you bless others with,” Jessey Njau, 42, told CTV News Toronto. “You don’t need to do much, just open your eyes a little bit and you’ll see there’s a need and want. This is what I can do.”
Njau’s passion for Christmas trees began when he was an international student at Humber College. He moved to Canada two decades ago from Kenya and when all his classmates would go home for the holidays, he would remain at the school.
One year, he was invited to a friend’s home for Christmas.
“I saw this magnificent fixture,” he said. “This magnificent piece of tree decorated to perfection and I saw that it was a centerpiece to the congregation of family and friends who were coming to be there. I thought, if I can aide that happening in someone else’s home, that would be great.”
Three years ago, around Christmas time, Njau bought a number of pine trees with the intention of selling them. But he said he felt conflicted.
“Here I am, I have received so much, and here I am trying to make a buck,” he said. “I don’t need to sell them.”
That year, he gave away 40 trees for free. The following year, 30 trees were piled up on his front lawn.
Njau purchases his trees from a friend who farms them, who he says gives him a good deal. He publishes posts on social media encouraging people to stop by and take a tree.
Many of the people who take advantage of the free Christmas trees either don’t have the funds or transportation to collect a tree from downtown, Njau said.
“That notion of me just giving the trees out here and let people, whoever it is, just take it, do whatever you want with it. I get people bringing me coffee, hot chocolate and Christmas cards with stories inside,” he said. “That, to me, is a gift.”
This holiday season he spent about $200 on 20 trees.
Njau said that he plans on continuing this tradition, using whatever funds he has available to make sure that others are able to experience the joys of decorating their own Christmas tree.
With files from CTV News Toronto's Michelle Dube