The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

December 2, 2012

Christmas tree tradition continues in Ashtabula County

Three area farms have been selling trees for a combined 160 years

Choosing a Christmas tree is a tradition often passed on from generation to generation and Ashtabula County growers have grown that tradition for decades.

Three area farms have been selling trees for a combined 160 years. Many other area farms are building their own traditions while making Christmas bright for customers near and far.

That’s a lot of tradition.

“It’s been in our family since 1948,” said Daisy Asmus, manager of Sarna’s Tree Farm in Jefferson.

Don Sarna has been working the farm for more than 65 years.

“I enjoy the kids from two to 83. They are all kids when they go out and start going through the field,” he said.

Manners Tree Farm has been selling trees for 51 years and estimates 90 percent of their business is from outside the county.

“The whole place is just about tradition. You can get a Christmas tree anywhere. We are not selling Christmas trees. We’re selling tradition,” said Kevin Lemons who owns the farm with his wife Ruth Manners.

Passing on the tradition is a right of passage for many children who bring their kids back to Ashtabula County.

“A lot of times you are getting three generations. They will pull in, in three or four cars,” Lemons said.

Aaron Brandt of Mentor confirmed that while carrying a tree back to his car. “I’ve been coming out here with my dad since I was very young,” he said.

Sarna estimates 50 percent of the Sarna’s Tree Farm business is from outside the county. “It brings a lot of tourists,” he said of people who not only buy a tree, but will stop for a meal or enjoy a shopping trip.

Warm weather early in the Christmas tree shopping season can be a mixed blessing as some people want snow-covered ground for their tree-cutting experience.

Asmus said most people get their trees by mid-December.  “With Thanksgiving being early it’s a long season (this year),” she said.

Different farms specialize in different kinds of trees and try to tailor their farms to make a unique experience for the customer.

Asmus said Sarna’s has a unique con-color fir that has a unique citrus smell. She said they also make wreaths and other holiday decorations fresh every day.

Some people use different farms while others lock on to one particular place and return year after year.

“This is the place we come most often,” said Micki Grego of Parkman after getting help from the staff at Henson’s Hideaway in Lenox Township.

“It’s the horse and the wagon ride (that) makes the experience,” she said.

The tradition of warm weather versus snow for tree shopping goes customer to customer, according to area growers.

“It is kind of a 50-50 thing. We get the people trying to beat the muck and then we have folks who wait until the last minute for some snow,” said Doug White, manager of Henson’s Hideaway.

“We’ve been coming here (Henson’s Hideaway) for four years. We just love the experience. I got to drive the horses (on the horse-drawn wagon),” said Katie Jesse of Rock Creek.

Ruth Manners said the nice weather motivates some people to get out early and buy their trees, especially if they come from long distances.

Manners said Rod Beals grew up down the street from the Dodgeville Road farm in New Lyme Township and has been helping sell trees at the farm for 40 years.

“For them (customers from Cleveland and its suburbs) it’s a day in the country. It’s a family tradition. It’s a day planned,” she said.

Lemons married into the tradition, but has bought in big time.

“You don’t see family togetherness like this too often. Maybe at a wedding and Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Lemons said.


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