755 E. Joppa Rd., Mooresville, 317-834-3804
Like many local tree farms, David Jay’s 20-acre plot sold out of the biggest trees early this season. But there are plenty of standard height pines still available for $13 per foot. Jay has been in the business for nearly 30 years, and has gotten to know a lot of repeat customers. “One recently said that it was his 27th year in a row buying a Christmas tree from me,” he says. “Over the years, we just kept planting more and more acres and having more and more repeat buyers.” Jay likes to promote a friendly and laid-back environment, so he hands out free cups of apple cider. Guests can also buy cookies and hot chocolate, the proceeds from which are donated to combat cystic fibrosis.
1115 E. 1000 N, Fortville, 317-326-1700
Owner Rex Zenor used his background as a custom-home builder to construct everything at this 73-acre farm himself. He started the plan for the trees in 1999 with his family, and then built them a house right next door. The Zenors opened their Piney Acres business six years later. First, Piney Acres staff greet guests in a log cabin-style barn and hand them a field map of the farm layout. Stop by the farm store for free popcorn and cocoa before the next move. Walk out with a sled and saw from the barn or ride on a covered wagon tractor out to pick and cut down your tree. Staff can shake off the loose needles, drill a hole at the bottom of the trunk, and wrap it in a net. The average fir tree costs between $100 and $125, but the 40-foot whoppers can sell for as much as $1,000. Zenor’s daughter, Rachael Hardwick, says that visitors almost always return from the fields with a smile as well as a tree. “When they’re coming in, 95 percent of the time, they’re happy,” she says. “It’s just a good atmosphere.”
1765 W. Blubaugh Ave., Thorntown, 765-325-2418
Tom Dull located his business on a mid-1800s farmstead, which is part of the appeal. In an old barn, he sells custom-decorated wreaths. The food offerings are equally appealing to families heading to the fields to cut their tree: apple cider doughnuts, hot chocolate, and homemade fudge. The 7-foot Canaan Firs cost $91, while similarly sized White Pines cost $67. Trees in that range dominate the selection now that the 14-footers have sold out. Dull says that, counterintuitively, harvesting a real tree is the environmentally responsible thing to do. He worries about the plastic trees that will be in a landfill hundreds of years from now. “A real tree is a renewable resource. When we cut one, we can plant another one,” he says. “A fake tree is shipped in from China, most likely, and when you’re done with it, it lasts in the soil, buried in the ground for who knows how long.”
8451 W. 100 S, Arlington, 317-903-9772
Lora and John Norris are in their 30th year of running this business on a farm that has been in the family for about 150. After graduating from Purdue, John spent some time away from the family business, then came back to the farm in 1982. Following years of work to reforest the land, the family finally sold their first tree in 1991. Today, they sell trees as tall as 12 feet high, and prices for a more standard 8-footer range from $46 for a Scotch Pine to $84 for a Frasier Fir. Norris says that Christmastime makes him happy, but adds that growing a tree takes work. They plant the seedlings in April and work to care for them until December. “You have to be very passionate about it,” he says. “We’ve been working the whole year to get things ready.”