December has arrived and many families are planning on trimming a Christmas Tree. While artificial trees may be suitable for some, purists feel that Christmas Trees should be live and that choosing the perfect tree and taking it home is part of the whole Christmas experience.
Christmas Tree farms are wholesome family fun, making memories and creating traditions for several generations and our Go Gardening Directory is a great way to locate a destination nearby. We'll feature three different merchants from across North America in this article, but chances are, there is a similar farm near your home.
Hardy's Reindeer Ranch is located near Rantoul, IL and is owned by Mark and Julie Hardy. They feature a cut your own tree farm and a live reindeer herd. Along with the gift shop and snacks, you can actually take the Reindeer Tour and get to know these friendly animals. (the Hardy's even supply snacks so you can feed the reindeer) The original animals were flown in from Alaska, so ‘reindeer actually do fly'. Bring your own saw, or they'll supply one for you. If you want to choose a pre-cut tree, they have those as well. Along with single families, they can accommodate large groups by appointment, so check it out for your company party or church group. They have a banquet hall and Branson-type show for larger groups.
Crest Ranch in Santa Cruz, CA was established in 1948 and is the oldest Christmas Tree farm in the western United States. They are known for having more varieties of trees than any other farm in California and Louise Moran says that she has repeat customers coming back for decades to choose and cut their tree from those growing on their 50 beautiful acres. One of the most unique characteristics of this tree farm is that they practice sustainable harvesting of their trees. By leaving the bottom branches on the stump, they can generate quite a few Christmas trees from the same stump over the years. There isn't a fancy gift shop or Santa taking orders, Crest Farm Supplies the saws, the view and free tree wrapping, but you supply the memories. Crest Ranch is also pet-friendly.
Windrift Christmas Tree Farm is located east of Tyndall in Manitoba, Canada and like the other farms in this article, it is a family business. Brothers Jim and Jason Gauthier and brother-in -law Brian Colbert welcome everyone to their farm. Windrift is family friendly and pet friendly. (Yes, even Fido is welcome to help choose the tree.) They have snacks and Santa on the premises, along with a selection of pre-cut trees inside a spacious building that is decorated beautifully. This building also has cozy wood stoves and fireplaces where you are welcome to toast your toes after a frosty hunt for the perfect tree. Jason is especially proud of the young families who choose to make their farm a winter destination each year.
I spoke with the owners of these tree farms on the phone and was impressed with their enthusiasm and dedication to this time-honored tradition. Each was more interested in helping families make memories than the business of selling trees and wanted to ensure repeat visits for years to come. One of the most interesting aspects of these interviews was that each farm was a family-run business, catering to families. They understand that family activities, suitable for all ages are hard to find these days and want to offer an atmosphere where even the tiniest tots are welcome.
It takes a great deal of work to maintain a Christmas Tree Farm and they are at the mercy of the weather as well. These trees to not magically shape themselves and there is intensive labor throughout the year so that your perfect tree is waiting for you each December. They are farmers in every sense of the word who love and respect the land.
Our Go Gardening Directory is a great way to locate a Christmas Tree farm near your home and if you have a favorite destination that we do not have listed, let us know and we'll be thrilled to add it to our list. If you've visited a tree farm, we'd love for you to share your experience with others. You can describe your experience and even post images on the listing if you wish. A family outing to the Christmas Tree farm is a great way to make memories and you'll be creating traditions that your children will continue with their own children as well.
A big thanks to Mark Hardy, (Hardy's Reindeer Ranch), Louise Moran (Crest Ranch) and Jason Gauthier (Windrift Farms) for graciously speaking to me on the phone during this busy season. The images in this article are from their websites and used with their permission. The only image that belongs to me is the thumbnail.
About Melody Rose
I come from a long line of Kentuckians who love the Good Earth. I love to learn about every living thing, and love to share what I've learned. Photography is one of my passions, and all of the images in my articles are my own, except where credited.