The holidays marks the second year of growing Christmas trees for Polk County’s Chad and Heather Reese and they’re ready to make a tradition of their family business.
The Reeses, who own the 78-acre Reese Family Christmas Tree Farm, say people who regularly buy live or cut trees make the day a family event.
“You see a lot of families come out and they spend two or three hours on the farm just sort of relaxing, taking the day to find them a tree,” Mr. Reese said.
SOUTHEAST TENNESSEE CHRISTMAS TREE FARMS
• ARCY Acres Christmas Tree Farm & Nursery
4439 Blaylock Rd.
Crossville, TN 38572
• Little Mountain Tree Farm
3186 Griffith Rd.
Pikeville, TN 37367
• Reese Family Christmas Tree Farm
205 Chestuee Rd.
Calhoun, TN 37309
He said falling gas prices should free people to visit their favorite tree farm. He said his prices were the same as last year, $5 a foot, for all but the Frazier firs.
Mrs. Reese said her young sons, McLain and Landon, are just learning the ropes at ages 4 and 6, respectively.
“They’re excited and ready to sell trees,” she said. She and her husband hope they’ll be the next generation to run the farm.
“That’s one of the reasons Chad wanted to get into this,” she said. “It’s something for the boys to do when they get older.”
In Bledsoe County, longtime grower Alice Bickford said the tree business has waxed and waned over the years but is a far cry from the old days when most living rooms were adorned with a real tree.
The Bickfords have owned Little Mountain Tree Farm in Pikeville, Tenn., since 1972.
“Back in that time, it was kind of slow,” Mrs. Bickford said. “Then it started picking up real good and we would have customers lined up for miles and miles.”
“I don’t have customers coming in like I used to,” she said.
Art Landrigan, owner of ARCY Acres Christmas Tree Farm and Nursery in Crossville, Tenn., said despite economic factors, people are buying real trees.
“Our farm in Crossville opened last Saturday,” Mr. Landrigan said. “Business was very brisk last Saturday and Sunday, in fact much better than the same weekend a year ago.”
The three tree growers say they have struggled to keep drought at bay the past two years.
Mrs. Bickford agreed the drought has been tough, but she said it’s “not enough to put too big of a hurt on my trees.”
She said her trees this year are pretty as ever.
Mr. Landrigan, who is president of Tennessee Christmas Tree Growers Association, said many Tennessee farmers hand-watered their trees. He said some watered 1,000 trees at a time.
“The farmers do whatever it takes in this state to make sure we have a quality product,” he said.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...