[soliloquy id=”15585″]Family traditions and Christmas trees take root at local farms across the Commonwealth
Put a little extra fa-la-la-la-la into your Christmas celebration by ringing in the holiday season with a trip to a nearby tree farm. Once there, you can search the fields until you find just what you’re seeking: the perfect Christmas tree.
Whether this is a tradition or you’re thinking of decorating a real tree for the first time, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for at one of many Christmas tree farms across the state.
Hutton-Loyd Tree Farm Situated on more than a thousand mostly forested acres about 2 miles from Plummers Landing in Fleming County, Hutton-Loyd Tree Farm has been growing Christmas trees and family traditions since 1982 on the family-owned farm. Visitors use a map to explore 30 acres of growing and mature Christmas trees like white pine, Norway spruce, and blue spruce, all nestled in a valley among rolling hills.
Farm manager Herb Loyd, member of Fleming-Mason Energy Cooperative, believes tree farms offer much more than a seasonal tree lot. “There’s the woods, the wildlife, and the
outdoor experience of it,” Loyd says.
Besides selecting a Christmas tree, visitors can enjoy a free hay wagon ride or just spend time sipping hot chocolate and roasting s’mores around the outdoor fireplace.
Loyd’s daughter and assistant manager, Haley Frazier, grew up spending a lot of time on the farm. “I can’t imagine Christmas without it,” she says. “It’s been neat to be able to share it with so many people and be part of their memories and tradition.”
This year, Frazier is hoping customers will make some new memories with what she calls The Giving Tree, a sort of Facebook-based, photo-clued scavenger hunt for ornaments, offering cash prizes ranging from $50–$250. For children 10 and under, special prize ornaments will also be hidden among the trees for a chance to win a wrapped gift from beneath the office Christmas tree.
George C. Wethington Nursery and Christmas Tree Farm
George C. Wethington and his wife, Mary Rose, once raised cattle and tobacco on their Jeffersontown farm. But then the couple decided to try something different—Christmas tree farming.
“It seemed like growing something here on the farm and having the customer come and pick it up here was the best solution that we’d ever tried to supplement income,” George says.
The Wethingtons have been selling Christmas trees since 1984, but they’ve grown exclusively white pine for the past three to five years. George says it shears well and its soft needles don’t prick fingers during decorating, plus there’s a landscape market for the tree. On the downside, some think the white pine’s weaker limbs don’t support heavy ornaments.
Even so, George says, “Some people have found a way to use the white pine as a beautiful Christmas tree.” How? George suggests first wrapping the white pine in lights for added limb support prior to hanging ornaments.
Before customers head out to select a tree, George lends them a bow saw. Once in the fields, families enjoy spending time posing for photos and children take turns cutting the tree. “They have a big time,” George says.
Michels Family Farm
Jeff and Pam Michels, along with their sons Adam and Owen, have sold Christmas trees while spreading holiday cheer to Owen County-area residents for the past four years.
With nearly 4 acres of trees to choose from, folks have no problem finding their perfect tree. The majority of trees are Scotch pine, though some white pine and Canaan fir are also available.
“Canaan fir trees are similar to the very popular Fraser fir trees, which are difficult to grow in our area. They have great natural form with more of an open branching pattern,” Adam explains. “Scotch pines are very thick and full with stout branches to hang ornaments on. They are trimmed and shaped in a variety of ways to have different shapes of trees.”
Regardless of the tree selected, the fun experience and the quality of the trees bring families back season after season, Pam says.
Adam adds that he enjoys offering local folks and urban dwellers alike the opportunity to cut their own Christmas tree. “It is a positive thing when people removed from farming and a rural lifestyle are able to get out on a farm and see where a product comes from and appreciate the work that goes into producing it,” he says.
Hartman Tree Farm
“I just enjoy growing trees,” says David Hartman, owner of Hartman Tree Farm in Bowling Green. Hartman, also a Kentucky Woodland Owners Association member, has nurtured and sold Christmas trees for 20 years.
The 5-acre Scotch and white pine farm is a “small operation,” Hartman says. However, this year-round job is no small task.
Trees are typically planted in March or April. Hartman says for a farm his size, 500 seedlings are planted in one day. May or June is tree-shaping season. “They get a new growth, which is sometimes called a candle,” Hartman explains. The new growth, usually from 6 inches to 3 feet long, is fairly tender and takes Hartman about 2 weeks to shear. Mowing and manicuring is done in the fall before customers begin arriving in December in search of their perfect tree.
Hartman says families often let him know how grateful they are to share the experience of cutting a live tree with their children. “It’s a very pleasant, happy time,” he adds.
Come make a memory at Baldwin Farms in Richmond, where owner and Blue Grass Energy member Margery Baldwin has sold Christmas trees for nearly 30 years.
Baldwin says Christmas tree farms offer people opportunities to connect one-on-one with nature. “It’s one of those family activities where you can come to make memories to last a lifetime,” she adds.
Some families make new memories while remembering lost loved ones, pets, or family members who are serving in the military during the holidays by placing that name on Baldwin’s Spirit Tree. There, it stays throughout the season.
When it comes to choosing a tree to take home, Baldwin Farms offers 12 acres of Norway spruce, white spruce, and white pine. Some Fraser firs from North Carolina are also available.
Of course, Baldwin decorates her home with a live tree. In 2015, she selected a Norway spruce with help from her grandchildren. “We fell in love with it because it had lots of pine cones and looked like it needed a good home more than some of the perfect trees most people choose,” Baldwin says. “I tell people they should choose a tree that speaks to them and wants to go home with them. We do the same thing when selecting our own tree.”
These are just a handful of the Christmas tree farms in the state.
Support local tree farms
Of the many Christmas tree farms dotting the state, approximately 20 are Kentucky Christmas Tree Association members. Steve McManus, owner of Cathole Bend Christmas Trees & Nursery, has been selling trees for nine years in Garrard County and is KCTA president.
McManus says even though Christmas tree farming is a relatively small industry in the commonwealth, it truly is a “green-oriented industry” where trees are rooted right here in Kentucky soil, rather than being grown elsewhere and shipped here.
For anyone looking for ways to save money this holiday season, buying a Kentucky-grown tree is budget-friendly. With some tree prices ranging from just $15 and up, McManus notes, “You can spend very little or you can spend a lot, depending on what your budget is.”
Perhaps most importantly, Christmas tree farming offers local communities a valuable service that’s increasingly popular. McManus says selecting and cutting your own tree is a fun activity with lots of photo-snapping moments.
“For people who live in town, it’s an opportunity to get out in the country a little bit and walk around amongst the trees and the fields that the farmers have,” he says. “It’s a good outdoor family experience.”
Care and feeding of your Christmas tree
Before bringing the tree home, evaluate your tree stand to be sure it’s in good working order to prevent potential tree-toppling.
Once your tree is cut, don’t allow sap to form on the base, thus hindering hydration. If sap does form, cut a bit more off the base.
Place your tree in water as soon as possible. A water-filled bucket will work until the tree is ready to place in its stand. Monitor water levels in the stand to help ensure your tree lasts throughout the holiday season.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association website, generally, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter.
Check your lights for exposed wires. If there are any, be sure to replace them with UL-approved lights before decorating the tree.
Contact with your local fire department to see if they offer Christmas tree dips in a fire-retardant material.
Prevent further drying by avoiding direct heat sources, such as vent registers, direct sunlight, or fireplaces.
nMany cities recycle Christmas trees. Check with your city’s officials to see if that’s the case. If your city doesn’t recycle, you can always have your tree made into mulch on your own.
nConsider turning your tree into a wildlife winter sanctuary for birds, rabbits, and other small animals.
nCreate a fish habitat in a pond or lake by securing a concrete block to the tree and placing it in the water.
nIf you’ve bought a balled-and-burlapped tree, then you’re ready to plant it once the holidays are over. But remember, your tree is used to being indoors. Slowly acclimate it to cooler outdoor temperatures. It’s also a good idea to dig and prepare the hole in advance if your area has a hard freeze by late December.
O’ Christmas Tree Farm
Before heading out to a local tree farm to choose your family’s perfect Christmas tree, call for business hours, pricing, and tree availability. Below are a few of the farms across the state. You can also go online to www.kychristmastreefarms.com, click on “Member Farms” and “Find a Farm” to locate a Christmas tree farm near you.
1113 Tates Creek Road
Facebook: Baldwin Farms
Selling Christmas trees for 30 years. A you-cut or we-cut farm, growing 12 acres of Norway spruce, white spruce, and white pine, with some balled and burlapped. North Carolina Fraser fir available. Offers greenery like wreaths and garland, along with tree stands and preservatives. Free hot chocolate and candy canes. All size trees priced at $52, plus tax. Kentucky Farm Bureau Certified Roadside Farm Market and Kentucky Proud.
Bare Creek Farm
395 Carter Sims Road
Facebook: Bare Creek Tree Farm
Offers pre-cut Fraser fir standing in field for viewing, plus handmade Fraser fir wreaths. Trees are in the process of growing for future seasons. Call or check Facebook for details on a fun-filled weekend with Santa Claus, plus free hot chocolate and hot cider. Kentucky Proud.
Barker’s Christmas Tree Farm
1500 Deer Haven Lane
Facebook: Barker’s Christmas Tree Farm
In business for 20 years, choose-and-cut farm grows 10 acres of Canaan fir, Douglas fir, Norway spruce, and white pine. Bales trees. Offers tree stands and handmade wreaths, plus candy canes for kids, a fire pit for hand warming, and free dated photos of each family with a reindeer for them to pick up the following year. Kentucky Proud.
Cathole Bend Christmas Trees & Nursery
1243 Cathole Bend Road
Facebook: Kentucky Christmas Trees
Selling trees for nine years. A choose-and-cut farm featuring 20 acres of white pine, Norway spruce, blue spruce, white spruce, Black Hills spruce, and Canaan fir. Live trees to replant after Christmas, plus tree stands, homemade wreaths, garland swags, and other greenery. Kentucky Proud.
Christmas Memories Tree Farm
4890 Keene Road
Selling trees for 30 years. Offers 2 acres of Canaan fir, Scotch pine, and white pine. A choose-and-harvest farm, or will cut and load for you. Open December 3 and 10,
9 a.m.–dark; December 4, 2 p.m.–dark.
George C. Wethington Nursery and Christmas Tree Farm
10407 Easum Road
(502) 267-5119 or (502) 592-2552
In business since 1984. Offering hundreds of you-cut white pine trees grown on 6 acres. Prices range from $20 to $50. Trees 10–12 feet tall are available for homes with cathedral ceilings. Serving free hot apple cider. Open Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and weekdays by appointment only.
Hartman Tree Farm
870 Old Tram Road
A choose-and-cut farm in business for 20 years, featuring Scotch pine and white pine grown on 5 acres, plus 14-inch wreaths. Open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday after Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve.
Hilltop Tree Farm
8023 Mt. Zion Church Road
Philpot (mailing address; physical location is closer to Knottsville in Daviess County)
(270) 281-5555 or (270) 929-0568
In business for 30 years with 15 acres of white pine, Norway spruce, and Canaan fir. Pre-cut North Carolina Fraser fir available. Customers can cut their own tree. Trees are shaken, baled, and loaded; free tree bag for after-season disposal. Tree stands available, and tree can be drilled or flocked (coated with white “snow”). Offers handmade wreaths and garland. Concessions available.
Hutton-Loyd Tree Farm
1483 Big Run Road
Wallingford (physical location 2 miles from Plummers Landing; if using GPS, front entrance coordinates are 38.342324 N, 83.548995W)
Facebook: Hutton-Loyd Tree Farms
A you-cut farm selling trees since 1986. Grows 30 acres of primarily white pine, Norway spruce, and blue spruce, plus North Carolina Fraser fir available. Shakes, bales, and loads the tree. Sells wreaths, garland, and tree stands. Also has a shelter with picnic tables and fireplace. Free hay wagon rides; concessions available. Check out Facebook for Giving Tree clues, a photo scavenger hunt. Open the Friday after Thanksgiving and every Saturday and Sunday through December 18.
Kovalic’s Christmas Tree Farm
487 Ecton Road
Facebook: Kovalic’s Christmas Tree Farm
Growing Christmas trees for 28 years. Choose-and-cut farm features 8 acres of Canaan fir, Scotch pine, white pine, blue spruce, white spruce, Norway spruce, and concolor fir. Other greenery includes swags, roping, and handmade wreaths from 6 to 48 inches. Gift shop. Kentucky Proud.
Michels Family Farm
4275 Hwy 1316
Sparta (physical location in Owen County)
Facebook: Michels Family Farm
A you-cut or we-cut farm growing 4 acres of Scotch pine, white pine, and Canaan fir for four years. Shakes out dead needles, bales, and loads. Kentucky Farm Bureau Certified Roadside Farm Market and Kentucky Proud.
Nieman’s Tree Farm
5100 Sulphur Lane
In business since 1990. Specializes in Fraser fir trees grown on 10 acres. You cut, or weather permitting, drive out to the field and have your tree cut and loaded for you.
Roberts Family Farm
125 Kennedy Road
Facebook: Roberts Family Farm
A family-owned farm since 1904. Begins selling fresh-cut trees Thanksgiving weekend, then each weekend until Christmas. Grows Scotch pine and white pine. Pre-cut Fraser fir trees available, plus wreaths and garland. Bakery open to the public during the fall and Christmas tree sales, and only by order the rest of the year with homemade desserts like fudge, cookies, and pies. Kentucky Farm Bureau Certified Roadside Farm Market.
Shelby Christmas Tree Farm & Nursery
175 McDaniels Road
Facebook: Shelby Christmas Tree Farm & Nursery
A you-cut farm growing 4 acres of Douglas fir, Norway spruce, Australian pine, Scotch pine, and white pine for seven years. Wreaths and on-site photography. Kentucky Proud.
Werkmeister’s Christmas Tree Farm
966 Clarks Lane
Facebook: Werkmeister Christmas Tree Farm
A you-choose-and-we-cut farm in business for 25 years, offering 6 acres of Canaan fir, Douglas fir, and Serbian spruce, plus handmade wreaths. Kentucky Proud.