With Christmas just a couple of short weeks away, area residents are flocking to area Christmas tree farms to purchase the main decoration piece for their homes this holiday season.
A popular spot for many folks to purchase trees is at Kleerview Farms, located at 2454 Baughman Road in Bellville, which is owned by Kevin and Debbie Kleer. The couple, along with several family members, keep busy nearly year round to make sure people have a festive Christmas.
Kevin said this is the 39th year the farm has been open.
“We were dairy farmers the time I started planting trees and starting planting them on an acre and a half of ground that was odd ball ground. … I couldn’t farm it, it was a pasture field that we always let the cows go in,” he said.
From that small plot of ground, Kevin said they are now up to 22 acres of trees on one farm, two and half acres on another farm, and five to six acres up by Clearview Reservoir.
Even with this land growing trees, Kevin noted Kleerview Farms sells out of trees every year, selling around 2,500 to 3,000 trees each season.
“We add an acre or two, to three acres a year (to plant trees),” he noted. “The trees that are all farmed we bring in and sell as pre-cuts. Then every year for the past five to six years I’ve had to purchase trees from other growers to supplement mine. We always run out of trees early.
“We offer a lot of stuff. It’s just not Christmas trees,” he said. “We have reindeer that people can see. We have wagon rides on the weekends and a Santa Claus that greets people and hands candy canes out, and we have a cocoa shed where we give hot cocoa out and they can buy other goodies. We have Santa’s Barnyard Express which is a barn full of baby animals and stuff and we have a lot of photo opportunities and we started a gift shop three or four years ago.”
Kleerview Farms is open 1-5 p.m. on the weekdays, and 9-5 on the weekends, with wagon rides and Santa welcoming visitors on the weekends. Tree prices range from $35 to $60 with some smaller trees in a stand for $20.
New to the business
Another couple just starting their venture into tree farming are Jay and April Jordan, who own Evenstar Acres, 4130 Township Road 99 in Mt. Gilead. They purchased land two years ago and this past spring was their first planting of seedlings.
“We planted 2,000 seedlings,” April explained. “We planted them by hand. We have 21 acres but this year we only planted on two acres. Every year we’re going to plant about an acre a year. It can take four to eight years before you have trees that are big enough to sell, so that’s why we’re planting trees each year … to make sure we have a good rotation.”
April said she and her husband decided to start a Christmas tree farm after the two talked about what their dream jobs would be. April said her husband loves the outdoors and she is very into planning events and experiences and Christmas is their favorite season.
“So, one day we decided and said ‘let’s go for it,’” she said.
April noted it will be around four to five years before their trees will be big enough to sell.
Taking the season off
Although Gary Hite, who owns Scioto Prairie Farms in Marion, is not selling trees this year, he noted the Christmas tree farm will be back next year.
Hite explained he had to have major back surgery recently, and that, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, didn’t bode well for the business this year. He also noted the farm wasn’t going to be able to offer as many mature trees as in years past, so one more year of growth will ensure a wide selection during the Christmas season in 2021.
“This would have been our eleventh year selling trees,” Hite said. “This is a third generation farm. I’m the only one who has sold trees, but I’m living on the farm my grandfather started. We currently have four and half acres of trees and we’re expanding to nine over the next five years. We plant about an acre a year.”
Hite noted people can find places to buy trees at the Ohio Christmas Tree Growers website.
“They can do a by-county search; that’s what I’m recommending,” he said. “They’re all good family farms.”
Hite noted he started tree farming to supplement the family income after the terrible profit margins in corn, soybeans and wheat.
“But my wife Terri and I both love working with people and selling things to customers,” he said. “And the other reason is to keep Christ in Christmas and that’s the important part of it now. That message is getting lost and when people come to our farm there is a Christian atmosphere to it and we just love doing that. We just absolutely love selling the trees.”
Hite said growing the business has been a long process.
“We planted our first trees in 2001,” he said. “That fall we had a hailstorm that ruined all those trees. We sold our first tree in 2009 selling about 10 or 11 and we’re up to around 170 a year now. But we’re in a situation now where we have too many short trees and not enough big ones, but things are looking better for next year. Like I said, we’re expanding, so in the future we should have plenty of trees.”
Email local news to firstname.lastname@example.org.