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Tommy Timber comes to life

Article Published: Oct. 17, 2013 | Modified: Oct. 17, 2013
Tommy Timber comes to life

From the pages of a book to the planting of a seed, the story of Tommy Timber, the little Christmas tree that could, springs to life this holiday season.

Retired family physician Dr. Don Berman created the character of Tommy Timber in the starring role of a story he used to tell his grandchildren. The ugly duckling-esque saga tells the tale of Tommy Timber, a small tree with humble beginnings, whose only wish is to be taken home by a family and decorated for Christmas.

Berman said he hopes readers come away from the book with “a good feeling,” noting that the book delivers an anti-bullying message, too.

“His teasing neighbor (a beautiful tree) ends up, albeit beautifully decorated, alone in a store window,” he said. “Tommy, though only modestly decorated, is surrounded with a loving family.”

And now readers who enjoyed the book can have their own little tree this year, thanks to a partnership between Berman and River Ridge Tree Farm. Jessie Davis, who owns Ashe County-based River Ridge, along with his wife, Michele, said he thinks “Tommy Timber” is a great story. Upon receiving promotional materials about the book, Davis said, “I thought, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be great to have a line of trees to go along with this story?’”

Davis, who also partners with Rusty and Ann Estes, owners of Peak Farms in Laurel Springs, reached out to Berman and collaborated with him to create the Tommy Timber line of trees. The three-to-four-foot table top Fraser fir trees, aptly named Tommy Timber, will begin being sold during the 2013 holiday season.

“I already sell a lot of trees in that three- to four-foot range,” Davis said. “But they don’t have that uniqueness to it. It’s not just an average tree, it’s a Tommy Timber tree, and there’s a story behind it.”

Berman, a seasonal resident who spends five to six months on Beech Mountain, said he is thrilled about the collaboration with River Ridge and the cultivation of the Tommy Timber tree.

“I am very excited about it,” he said. “I feel like the toymaker who created Pinocchio and had him turn into a real live boy!”

It was the Christmas tree farms dotting the mountains of North Carolina that originally inspired the story of Tommy Timber.

“When we bought a summer home in North Carolina, I was impressed with the number of tree farms we saw,” Berman said. “The first winter holiday we spent here with the kids motivated me to create a story about the trees for them.”

Berman said although he finished writing the book many years ago, it was first published in 2012.

“We only got the first copies early last October, way too late for any major marketing plans,” he said. “Still, we managed to sell almost every copy we had on hand. The books are currently available in gift shops and specialty stores from California to Florida and points in between. They are also available online from our website,”

The first Tommy Timber trees will be sold in a couple of months. Davis said he plans to do a soft launch of the tree in some test markets this year. Berman also hopes to see an impact on book sales from the marketing of the trees.

“Thanks to River Ridge, we will have broader national exposure, since many of the 65,000 miniature trees they sell every year will bear the name, Tommy Timber, and have ordering instructions,” Berman said.

To find where to purchase the Tommy Timber trees, visit

Additional Images

Area author Don Berman reads from his recently penned children’s book, ‘Tommy Timber.’
Photo submitted

Ashe County’s River Ridge Tree Farm presents a line of Tommy Timber-themed Christmas trees, named after the titular hero of area author Don Berman’s children’s book, ‘Tommy Timber.’
Photo courtesy of Jessie Davis

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