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Choosing and decorating a live evergreen tree is a time-honored Christmas tradition. The first Christmas tree has been traced back to Riga, Latvia. Evergreen boughs have held a place in winter solstice celebrations dating back to Roman times. Christmas trees became popular especially in Germany, where they were decorated with fruits, ribbons and sweets. The Christmas tree tradition crossed the Atlantic in 1777 when Hessian troops fighting for the British brought the Christmas tradition with them to America. The tradition quickly caught on in the 1800s. The first Christmas tree lot opened in 1851 in New York City. President Franklin Pierce brought the first Christmas tree into the White House in 1856.
This Christmas tree graced the White House in 1934. Photo: Library of Congress
By the early 1900s, Christmas trees were so popular, Theodore Roosevelt became concerned about the decimation of evergreen forests. He advocated for Americans to stop the practice of cutting live trees down. At the same time, the first Christmas tree farm was started in New Jersey, a practice that began to gain ground among conservationists. Franklin Delano Roosevelt even planted a Christmas tree farm on his estate in New York in the 1930s. Though artificial trees have pushed into the Christmas tree market, Christmas tree farms promote the responsible growing and use of live trees. While most fake trees are produced in factories overseas, Christmas tree farms support local growers. Artificial trees cannot be recycled, while live trees can be used in many ways after Christmas is over, including as habitats for fish in lakes. Environmentalists overwhelmingly support the use of live trees, which are replanted every year.
In Arkansas, families have many options to choose from to make special Christmas memories while choosing a live Christmas tree. Picking out your own Christmas tree at one of Arkansas’s many Christmas tree farms is a great, socially-distanced activity to get ready for Christmas this year and support our local tree growers and farmers at the same time. Read on to find a farm near your family.
Romance Christmas Tree Farm – Romance – This family-owned farm opens the day after Thanksgiving and also sells t-shirts, masks, hats and beanies. Watch their Facebook page for updated information on events at the farm.
Schilling’s Family Christmas Tree Farm – Jacksonville – Family owned and operated for 31 years, Schilling’s is located on 17 acres. The farm opens the day after Thanksgiving but will have limited trees available for 2020 and Covid-19 restrictions in place. Find out more on their Facebook page.
Holiday Forest Christmas Tree Farm – Jacksonville – Owners Jim and Ella have been in the tree business since 1983. They open on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Saws are provided. This is a true cut-your-own tree experience.
Motley’s Tree Farm – Little Rock – Motley’s Tree Farm has been offering a pick-your-own Christmas tree experience since 1982. Ride the wagon out to the trees, select your tree and ride back to the farm with it. Motley’s also has a variety of fun, family options to add to your day, like a farm zoo, a gift shop stocked with ornaments and a fudge kitchen. The farm opens on November 21 for the season.
Bradbury Christmas Tree Farm – Mabelvale – Bradbury’s has been in business since 1979 and has over 8,000 trees across 35 acres of property. Santa has been known to appear throughout the Christmas season. Follow the Facebook page for updated information and Covid-19 protocols.
Papa Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm – Benton – Papa Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm has long been a family favorite. This year, the farm has put Covid-19 measures in place to keep everyone safe and socially distanced. The farm is already open for customers to tag their trees and is operating longer hours this year. Hot chocolate, cider and candy canes will be served outside and a plan is in place for Santa to make a safe, socially distanced appearance. Follow the Facebook page for Santa updates and more.
McAlpine Christmas Tree Farm – Bismarck – McAlpine offers trees from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve and is open seven days a week to choose your own tree.
Wonderland Christmas Tree Farm – Pea Ridge – Wonderland Christmas Tree Farm provides everything you need to find and cut down your perfect tree. They even offer local delivery. The farm also has a gift shop, cookies, hot chocolate and a few special events, like Lantern Night, where you can find your perfect tree by lantern light. The farm opens for early bird weekend on November 21 and is fully open the day after Thanksgiving. Follow the Facebook page for event information.
Shipley Farms – Tontitown – Shipley Farms offers cut trees and flocked trees along with wreaths. The farm opens the day after Thanksgiving.
Lollis Christmas Tree Farm – Rudy – The Lollis farm specializes in Virginia pine trees. Opening Thanksgiving Day, pick your favorite pine and they will cut it for you. Note that the farm only accepts cash or check. Find out more at Lollis Christmas Tree Farm on Facebook.
Christmas Tree Lane – Ozark – The Lanes planted their first trees in 1990. Thirty years later, they’re ready to open for another season. The farm offers plenty of photo opportunities with the bright red truck, fun Christmas stations, a farm store featuring local artists and crafters, and cookies and cocoa. Plan to spend some time making family Christmas memories here. Check out Christmas Tree Lane on Facebook for more information.
Pine Grove Christmas Tree Farm – Charleston – Greg and Betty Eckart have operated the farm since 1979. They’re open this year from November 14 to December 22 to pick your own tree, plus fun activities like pig races, a hayride, a candy cane tree, hot chocolate, and a hay play area for kids. Find hours and more information at Pine Grove Christmas Tree Farm on Facebook.
Johnson Family Christmas Tree Farm – Paris – A relative newcomer to the Christmas tree business, the farm opened to visitors in 2015. Located at the foot of Mount Magazine, Johnson Family Christmas Tree farm offers pick-your-own trees, fresh wreaths and handcrafted ornaments. Keep up with the farm on their Facebook page.
Hilltop Christmas Tree Farm – Dardanelle
Vandiver’s Newcastle Farms – Forrest City – The Vandivers planted their first trees in 2007 and have provided Arkansans with Arkansas grown trees ever since. They also sell fresh wreaths and garlands, home-baked goods and pickles! The farm opens in mid-November. Follow the Facebook page for updates.
The Crow’s Nest Farms – Paragould – For the 2020 Christmas season, the Crow’s Nest Farms is offering pick-up of their live Christmas trees in downtown Paragould. The farm hopes to open to cut-your-own trees in 2021. The farm also offers a gift shop featuring local vendors, sweets, ornaments and more. Visit their Facebook page for more information.
Southwest Arkansans may have to look a little farther afield this year for cut-your-own trees. These two farms are looking forward to Christmases in the near future.
Red Colony Tree Farm – Lockesburg – The Red Colony Tree Farm will not be open for the 2020 season as they’re still in the process of growing their Christmas trees. Keep them in mind for future Christmas tree excursions! Follow their progress on Facebook at Red Colony Tree Farm.
May Hill Farms – Stamps – May Hill Farms has decided to postpone opening until 2021 due to the pandemic. The farm is available for photographers and more information can be found on their Facebook page, May Hill Farms.
Old Milo Tree Farms – Hamburg – Old Milo Tree Farms opens Thanksgiving Day for the season. The farm offers cypress trees, firs, wreaths, garlands and trimmings for all your fresh cut holiday decorating. They also offer pony rides and school tours. Check out Old Milo Tree Farms on the web for more information.
Tidwell Christmas Tree Farm – Fordyce – Tidwell Christmas Tree Farm opens on Black Friday with all your Christmas tree needs for South Arkansas. They have pines, cypress, Carolina sapphires and freshly cut Fraser firs available, as well as fun games for kids, goats, hot chocolate and a gift shop with tree stands, woodworking items and wreaths. Find out more at TidwellChristmastree.com.
Don’t forget before you head out, you’re visiting a farm, so conditions can change day to day. Be sure to check farm websites or social media for updated information or call ahead to confirm hours and availability. With so many options to support local growers and find the perfect Christmas tree for your family, Arkansas-grown Christmas tree farms promise to brighten your holidays in 2020.
Photos courtesy of Wonderland Christmas Tree Farm and used with permission.
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