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Matt's Tree Farm

Matt's Tree Farm: Honoring Loved ones and Creating Memories

By Morgan Graham

The fresh smell of pine, the joyous laughs of children playing, the sweet moments of watching families grow are the memories and traditions Harry and Lynn Embry experience each year at Matt’s Christmas Tree Farm tucked back in rural Talladega County.

“The farm is all about honoring our son Matt and creating relations with families year after year,” Lynn said. “Each year we watch as families escape all the worries of life and just enjoy being with each other.”

Once pastureland, Matt convinced his dad to give him 10 acres to start his own tree farm. Matt, who had worked at Eastaboga Tree Farm since high school, loved being able to create relationships with customers and watch them create memories with their loved ones.

In 2005, Matt planted 5,000 trees, a variety of Leyland cypress and Virginia pine, in a checkered pattern to ensure that each tree had 10 feet to breathe and grow properly. To grow a 6-foot Christmas tree takes about five years.

Eight months before Matt’s Tree Farm was set to open, Matt died in a tragic car accident. Wanting to carry on their son’s legacy and commitment of thinking of others first, Harry and Lynn opened the Christmas Tree Farm that first year in November 2011.

“Our biggest fear was no one would show up. We didn’t have any idea what we were doing. The Christmas trees were all Matt’s,” said Harry, a Munford resident.

It begins to look a lot like Christmas at Matt’s Tree Farm the weeks before Thanksgiving when the Embrys have all the trees shaped and attractions set up. They open the day after Thanksgiving.

“We never know what the weather will be like, some years it’s 90 degrees and other years it’s snowing, and we have kids sledding down the hills,” Harry said.

Today, the Embrys sell more than 300 trees a year, all choose-and-cut trees sold straight to their customers.

“We’ve had customers from Mobile, Atlanta and even Louisiana. We never thought people would travel that far to visit our little tree farm, but we welcome them just as Matt would have,” Lynn said.

Throughout the past nine years, the Embrys have continued to learn about Christmas trees, and even managed to add several attractions to the farm, including field trips for Alabama Industries for the Blind, pictures with Santa and hay bale attractions that entertain the whole family.

“The Embrys are a great asset to the Munford community and Co-op family,” said Talladega County Exchange Manager Chris Elliot. “Their commitment to serving the community is inspiring to others.”

All the money raised each winter from Matt’s Christmas Tree Farm goes straight to scholarship and charity funds.

To find out more about Matt’s Tree Farm visit them on Facebook at

Strokes of Joy

Strokes of Joy: Christi Bunn, Artist

By Carolyn Drinkard

Henry David Thoreau once pointed out that it’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see. For Christi Phillips Bunn, an outdoor art class opened her eyes to a whole new world, and it changed her life forever.

She majored in Advertising/Graphic Design and Studio Art at the University of Alabama. On one occasion, her professor took the class to Denny Chimes and asked the students to view the University’s amazing architecture against the blue sky. It was at that moment the “light bulb” went off in her head, inspiring her to capture perspective and detail in architectural structures. She has been doing that ever since.

After graduation, Christi married Andy Bunn, a Methodist minister, moved to Birmingham and worked in graphic design for an energy company, honing her computer skills along the way. In 1999, she started her own web-design company and freelanced from home. Today, she serves as principal web and graphic designer for Bunn Media.

Technology opened a whole new world for Bunn. “In college, we did not use computers,” she explained. “We did everything by hand. But, I had learned enough about the computer while working that I taught myself to build websites.”

With her three children growing older, Bunn found time to dabble more in her beloved art. In 2006, two gifts would unexpectedly change her life forever! Looking for something special for both her mother and mother-in-law for Christmas, she prepared two graphite drawings of their homes, along with matching notecards. Both were delighted and shared their special gifts with others. Suddenly, friends and family were requesting her artwork and telling their friends about her amazing talent. When she put a few art samples on her website, the response was incredible.

Bunn’s fine art paintings and drawings have now been commissioned by clients all across the United States and the U.K. She is sought out for her architectural pieces, from homes to churches to commercial buildings and more.

Her special attention to detail and faithful representation of perspective enhance each piece.

“I have done treasured homes for families who wanted to remember each place they had lived,” she stated. “I have done vacation homes and lake houses where special memories have been made. I have done churches where special events such as weddings or baptisms have happened. I’ve done treasured pets that are loved or fondly remembered by their owners. I have even done baby animals for a nursery.”

Evoking fond memories is Bunn’s desire.

“Whether the piece is of a home, a lake house, a vacation home, a church, a business or some other place near and dear to someone’s heart, each piece is done with tender care and an emphasis on excellence,” she said.

Bunn’s “Bama Art” is some of her most requested work. From the President’s Mansion to Denny Chimes or Bryant Denny Stadium on game day, her fine drawings of the University of Alabama architecture capture the grandeur and tradition of each iconic structure.

When not working on commissioned pieces, Bunn enjoys painting everything from florals to landscapes to scenes of everyday life. She has also done portraits of people and animals. She paints in oil, acrylic, watercolor and pastel, along with drawing in graphite, charcoal and Prismacolor pencil; however, her most requested commissions are still her pencil works with fine detailing.

Bunn has also used the internet as an amazing tool, creating digital artwork for wedding invitations, stationery, Christmas cards and much more. Many brides, who want unique, one-of-a-kind designs for that special day, seek her custom monograms, which are in high demand.

Bunn not only enjoys the process that each unique piece brings but she also loves the challenge.

“Finding just the right composition, tone, color and values, and then putting it all together to create a treasured heirloom is amazing,” she declared. “And then there is nothing more delightful than receiving a note from a customer, telling me what the ‘reveal’ was like. Many times I have been told of great celebrations and tears of joy!”

For years, Bunn has been a part of the local art community in the Birmingham area. Since 2012, she has been a board member of the Mountain Brook Art Association, serving as its president in 2016. She is also on the board of Hoover’s Arts Alliance. In 2020, she will be honored with a one-woman art show at the Hoover City Hall Gallery.

Andy pastors Emmanuel Methodist Church in Bessemer. As she has pursued her dream of doing fine art, her biggest fans have been her husband and three children: Jacob, Benjamin and Mary Katherine.

Jackson Pollock once said that every good painter paints what he is. Bunn’s passion and purpose radiate with each stroke.

“I am inspired by the beauty I find around me every day and by the Creator whose hand is in every part of that beauty,” she sighed. “I desire to create a work that is both visually stunning and true to the wishes of my client. I believe that God is the giver of all good gifts, and I am incredibly thankful to Him for allowing me to have the privilege of doing art that can bring joy to those who receive it.”

Check out Christi Bunn’s incredible work on Facebook at Contact her at She can also be reached at Bunn Media at 205-616-3545.

World Congress Tours Grandview Farms

By Susie Sims

October 2019 was an exciting time in northwest Alabama. The Santa Gertrudis World Congress visited Grandview Farms on its 16-day excursion across the southern United States. Grandview has multiple farms, but the operation is centered in Marion County, where the farm first began. Representatives from 10 nations came together to learn about Santa Gertrudis cattle from the country that pioneered the breed.

According to Brent Shaw, approximately 60 people toured the Grandview Farms headquarters on Sunday, Oct. 6. The bulk of the contingent was from Australia and Brazil, where the breed is well established.

“No matter where they’re from, the common denominator in all the conversations was rain, grass and bulls,” Shaw said. “We all have the same concerns, no matter where we are.”

Shaw noted that some of the Australian members of the group were amazed at the supply of vegetation available. Even when Shaw pointed out that we were in a severe drought in early October, the Aussies countered that they were in the midst of a three-year drought and thought we had an abundance of grass.

Grandview has recently been approved to sell semen internationally.

“When we clear a bull for export, we make sure it’s clear for Australia, because they have the strictest import regulations,” Shaw said. “That way we can ship anywhere else in the world.”

Shaw is looking forward to international trade and the boost it could mean for the breed. He’s anxious to see what having new out-crosses available in the world market will mean for Santa Gertrudis cattle in the states.

Grandview is owned by Delmo Payne and his wife, Wilmuth, of Hamilton. Farm Manager Brent Shaw and his wife, Marla, have been with the farm for 24 years. Herdsman Seth Holmes has been with the farm for three years.

Payne began his operation in the early 1980s with 20 heifers and a bull. Today, his farm boasts 540 breeding females.

“Grandview Farms, the purebred division, implements an extensive artificial insemination and embryo transfer program to produce herd sires, donor and replacement females, and has been well represented in the show ring, having multiple national champions,” Shaw said.

Grandview is currently working to develop a new commercial breed of cattle designated American Reds. This project is in conjunction with five other breeders and ranchers. Grandview has a farm near Crawford, Mississippi, where its commercial venture is centered.

“Our commercial division is Magowah Ranch, and is located in Mississippi,” Shaw said. “There, we are utilizing regenerative farming practices and developing an integrated approach to marketing beef cattle. Our goal at Magowah is to produce grass-finished beef, replacement females and commercial bulls using Santa Gertrudis and Red Angus genetics to produce American Reds.”

Persons wanting more information about Grandview Farms may call Payne at 205-468-5319. His email address is Shaw can be reached by calling 205-412-7053. The farm’s website is

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