HANCOCK COUNTY — With December just days away, families are making plans to pick the perfect Christmas tree. From Thanksgiving through the weekend, this four-day period will be the busiest of the year for places selling real Christmas trees this holiday season.
For the past 40 years, Robert and Kathy Wendt, along with their son Nathan, have worked the Lost Forty Tree Farm, 4499 North 400E, Greenfield. While the family noted they are geared up and ready for a busy holiday weekend, many people have gotten a head start and already visited the farm to get a jump on decorating this Christmas.
“People have been calling saying ‘Hey, are you open?’ and we say ‘No, but we are here, so come on out,’” Robert said. “We sell a lot of trees that way along with a lot of greenery for people to make wreathes and those sorts of things.”
On Nov. 12, the family reported they’ve already had at least 100 families in and three different photographers out taking photos of the farm.
“It’s been a long time since we had the parking lot full,” Robert said.
The Wendt family are first-generation farmers and welcome over 1,000 guests each year. So far, they said 2023 was their earliest season ever as they started with a sale of their first tree on Oct. 30. All trees offered are 100% Indiana Grown and raised in Greenfield.
“Our trees are ready and are looking better than they have in years,” Robert said. “We’ve finally recovered from that 2012 drought more than anything.”
Originally trained as veterinarians with their own practice, the family started a 100-plus-acre tree farm in Greenfield that specializes in raising a wide variety of trees. One thing the family prides itself on is they let people take all the time they need to find the right Christmas tree while making cherished memories with their family.
“Once they get the perfect tree and get it up to the processing place, we get it all ready and done to travel within minutes,” Robert said. “We’ve heard lots of stories where other places can take hours to process, but we get it done and get people on their way.”
The tree farm offers a unique experience for families who can come out to stroll through the farm and pick the perfect Christmas tree and cut it down if they want. From spruce, fir and pine Christmas trees, there is a wide variety of trees for every real Christmas tree hunter.
“Our number one tree is the Canaan fir,” Robert said. “Visually, it is about 99% identical looking to a Frazier fir tree and all our trees are grown right here. We do not ship in other trees.”
Robert noted nine out of 10 people who come looking for a real Christmas tree end up looking at the Canaan fir trees, but their White pines trees, a truly beautiful green tree with a bluish tint and sturdy branches, are also a true favorite.
The farms grows Turkish, Alpine and Korean firs as well, and Robert noted they are trees with much better needle retention than the Scotch firs.
“People have figured that out and they like those kinds of trees,” he said.
One thing Robert wants all real Christmas tree owners to know is when they get their tree home be sure to take good care of the tree, giving it as much water as it will drink.
“Not just on our farm but all farms, pretty much all of central Indiana is currently going through a drought right now — probably the baddest we’ve had in the past 100 years,” he said. “So the trees who had a good growing season are extremely dry right now, so it’s critical any cut trees taken home must go in the water right away, and it will probably drink a gallon of water the first day.”
He wanted to remind real Christmas tree owners to keep an eye on the tree and check the water level each day to keep it healthy through the month of December.
“Keeping the tree in water is always important, but this year more than ever,” he said.
While the size and kind of tree will dictate how much Christmas trees cost, Robert noted they’ve got trees to fit every budget, from $20 to $160.
“Genetically, some trees are just perfect, I’m talking the kind of tree that will win the State Fair, but other trees might be a little less, so what we do is consider the size, but also the density, the color and the species of the tree,” Robert said. “We have expert graders who grade every tree on our farm, helping us set the prices which we feel are really fair.”
While some families will opt for artificial trees, for the Wendt family and those who visit the farm, the feel of a real tree is the better option and the official start of a good Christmas season.
“We do serve a lot of people in this county and we are thankful for their support, but we also get people from all over coming to find the right Christmas tree,” Robert said.
For hours visit lostfortytreefarm.com or call, 317-326-4670. The family noted dogs are welcome on the farm but not on the tree field where people are cutting and pulling trees.