Nestled on a country road in Arlington, Indiana, it is Christmas year-round for the Norris family, and their family business: the Clearview Family Christmas Tree Farm. John and Lora Norris have surrendered the land outside of their home on 100 South, and dedicated it to one of the most well-known symbols for the Christmas holiday season: Christmas trees. You might be thinking, “Why are we talking about Christmas trees in April?”, and if you are, that is an excellent question! Just like any other type of tree, or plant in general, Christmas trees require a lot of time, love, and care to grow into the beautiful structure you bring inside of your home in December and adorn with lights. I met up with John and Lora at their tree farm on the windy, chilly Saturday of April 9. It certainly was not Christmas, but the weather outside sure felt like it could have fit the bill. John showed me around their farm and described to me the planting process, which is what everyone on the farm was thoroughly engaged in when I arrived.
At Clearview Family Christmas Tree Farm, so much love and care goes into that tree before it reaches your home. Everything down to how the tree is planted is given special care and detail. Every year in April, the Norris’s begin the planting process. It all begins at the barn across the street and down the road from the farm and their residence. Inside the barn, several people are gathered and place the trees into bags. The trees are separated along the wall based on the type, and are planted into the bags using the Norris’s specially created potting soil, which is a mixture of pine bark, sand, and spagnan peet moss. I was inquisitive as to why the tree plants were covered with straw while lined across the wall. John informed me that they are covered to retain their moisture, so they do not dry out. The trees are then planted inside of bags, rather than the ground. I learned that the bag allows the root system to develop, prevents choking of the roots, prevents transplant shock, and allows for a more centralized irrigation and injection of fertilizer. Once the trees are bagged, they are shipped across the road to be placed in line amongst the other trees.
At the Clearview Farm, there is a great variety of trees to choose from. Everything from a concolor fir, to a blue spruce, a Norway spruce, and a Cannan. Cannan trees came from the Cannan valley in West Virginia. They are similar to a Frazier fir, and they are left in the bag to develop for a year and then transplanted to the ground. Where exactly does your tree come from? Georgia! Well, the USSR’s Georgia that is. John specializes in fir trees and obtains his seeds from Georgia in the USSR. There are 5 different species of firs, and they require special attention. When they started, John experienced an 80% loss by doing the “box to ground” method. Since changing that method to the bag, he has only experienced a 1% loss. It seems the trial and error method did this man right!
In today’s world, it is favored to be more green and environmentally conscious, right? Many growers and farmers have taken this into consideration and made changes to their routines to accommodate for that. At the Clearview Farm, John makes use of what he called “good bugs”. Have you ever seen a tree or a plant that is covered in tiny little white spots, causing the plant to look white? You can thank the bug known as the scale insect for that. They are parasites of the plant, and do not belong on the tree. For some, a good ol’ insecticide would take of those, but John took a different route and made use of the “good bugs”. He put a bug known as the Lindoor beetle to work. Lindoor beetles irradicate the scale insect and are made a natural pesticide that does no harm to the tree or the environment and will eliminate the scale bug in a matter of a year. No chemicals are used!
While you’re enjoying the spring air, patiently awaiting summer days of sunshine and warmth, with winter as the last thing on your mind, the Norris’s are still hard at work to ensure you receive the best Christmas tree your family could want this holiday season. Coming to the farm to choose a tree with your family is sure to be a memory worth making, and certainly makes a great family tradition. Do you remember the days of picking a Christmas tree out with your family? The smell of the pine and the fragrance of the fir is enough to bring those memories back to life, and allow you to relive your childhood all over again. Has picking out a live tree never been a family event in your family? Make it one! It is certainly to be a tradition the kids will never forget. The Norris’s have been serving multi-generational families, as picking out the tree together is the tradition that is sure to be passed on through those generations. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, about 25 to 30 MILLION live Christmas trees are sold to families annually. It is certainly not a thing of the past.
Follow me along through the year as I bring you a first-hand look at the process of how a Christmas tree makes it into your living room from the Clearview Family Christmas Tree Farm! (And while you’re at it, make you make time this December to get your tree at Clearview!)