Al Price thinks about Christmas all year round.
During the summer, he can see the trees of Christmas future. Even in autumn, when his Homestead Fall Farm is busy with pumpkins and other fall fun, he knows that people will soon stop by for their Christmas tree. And the trees they will buy this year were on Price’s mind about eight to 12 years ago, when he planted the seedlings.
Getting a Christmas tree at Homestead Fall Farm – whether cutting your own or buying one already cut – has become a holiday tradition for many families in our area. And Price, who values both family and farm traditions, is happy to be a part of it.
“You don’t even have to buy a tree – come out and get into the spirit of Christmas,” he said. “You’ve got to come out to the country. It’s not like going to a big box store. Yeah, you might be able to get it cheaper, but do they give you a hayride while you’re there?”
Price and his wife, Terri, didn’t mean for their 30-acre farm to become a regional fall and winter holiday hot spot. After buying acreage over the years, the Prices originally focused just on corn and soybeans. One of their sons decided to grow pumpkins for a 4-H project, and the family kept raising pumpkins after the project was done. That humble pumpkin project eventually blossomed into a side business that keeps the family busy in the fall with hayrides, pumpkin picking and other fall activities.
Around the same time they planted their first tree seedlings. By 1988 they had 1,600 seedlings on their property during a year of drought, hand-watering the seedlings off a water wagon. They lost a lot of seedlings but gained experience in raising trees. By 1997 they sold their first tree out of that crop.
Now Homestead Fall Farms is also known as Christmas Central to many, with the chance to select your own tree amidst holiday fun. Those who don’t want to cut down their own tree can pick from several varieties of pre-cut trees, including scotch pine, white pine, blue spruce and Norway varieties. Hand-made wreaths adorn Terri’s craft shop, and the smells of freshly-popped popcorn and hot chocolate waft across the lot. Add in free pony rides and hayrides – and $2 putt-putt weather permitting – and it doesn’t get more festive or family-friendly.
“You talk about getting in the mood for Christmas,” said Price. “We just like to see the kids out here. Get them out in the country and let them run around. Let them chase a chicken if they want to.”
Go Find that Tree
The Christmas season at the Price farm, 6850 Biglick Township Road 258 in Alvada, begins the day after Thanksgiving. Christmas hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays, with other special activities scheduled during the season. Things end the weekend before Christmas, to allow the family to relax and prepare for their own holiday celebration.
And what of the Price family’s own Christmas tree? They choose from the ones that are left over. Those stragglers are far from being Charlie Brown trees, however. Two years ago, the Price family celebrated with their four children and their families – including eight grandchildren – with an 8-foot tree no one else selected.
“Everyone walked right past it, and a couple days before Christmas we cut it,” he said. “It was a beautiful, beautiful tree.”