By Matt Ledger
It started with a fever.
“I was too sick to go on a Halloween hayride at church,” Tim Farris says. “So I was at home flipping through the channels and found a great PBS show on growing Christmas trees.”
The fever went away, but the idea began to grow.
“The kids won’t let him stay home alone anymore,” Trina Farris says with a laugh. “But if they do, the TV is unplugged.”
Tim teaches fourth grade at Dibrell Elementary, and Trina is a library assistant at Warren County High School.
“We visited several Christmas tree farms in the area and talked to several owners to get some ideas before we started,” Trina says. The family began their new adventure in March 2010, naming it Reindeer Plains and choosing to organically grow Virginia pine seedlings.
The family quickly learned that it can be as challenging to grow trees as it is to select one for the holidays. More than 300 of their trees died in 2012, including some new Norway spruce, during a summer with excessive heat and sparse amounts of rain.
Other hurdles have been unpredictable and, at times, comical. “We’ve had one year where we sold out and another that we didn’t do well,” Tim says. “We thought ‘Do we ever want to do this again?’, but we ultimately decided the worst thing that could happen is we’d have a pine forest for a backyard.”
Reindeer Plains also offers pre-cut Fraser Fir trees — which will not grow in the Southern climates — while their five-acre tree farm continues to grow.
Their ultimate goal is to create a family experience and a classic Christmas ambiance. Five acres of Christmas trees certainly helps that, but the Farrises seal the deal with hot chocolate and homemade cookies. “We encourage families to come out and make photos because they’re making memories,” Trina says. As a boy, Tim’s parents used an artificial tree, but he would always find a small cedar to decorate his bedroom. “My grandfather was a nurseryman and he would be very proud of us,” Trina says.
For the Farrises, Reindeer Plains is much more than a business. “We also started this because we thought it was something we could do as a family,” Tim says. “Our boys are a great help to us, and they’ve learned each of the chores in tending to our small forest.” The family plans to keep the operation small — adding 100 trees each planting — hoping to cover all five acres behind the family home.
Brock is a sophomore at Tennessee Tech and Braden is a senior at Warren County High School. “On the day after Thanksgiving, it’s a busy time and it takes all of us, each taking care of a customer,” Tim says. “It’s a lot of fun, and we enjoy it as a family.”
283 Airport Lake Rd.
Opening Nov. 27 and each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday
from 1:30-5 p.m. until Christmas. Weekday appointments call 931-668-4438 after 4 p.m.