FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – November means Christmas will be here soon and you may be thinking about getting your Christmas tree.
Judy Reifenberg and her husband Mike have owned and operated St. Joe Christmas Tree Farm in Fort Wayne since 1999. The couple is gearing up for another holiday season. The farm offers not only Christmas trees, but a full gift shop, wreaths, white pine roping, greenery, and more. However, you will need an appointment to select and purchase your Christmas tree.
The appointment system was established as a result of the pandemic last year. The system was very successful, as it reduced the long lines of past years. The appointment scheduler will go online either Wednesday, November 3rd or Thursday, November 4th. Look for a Facebook and Instagram post on the farm’s accounts when the scheduler goes live. Appointments will be available for around 10 to 14 cars every 15 minutes. You can make an appointment on the farm’s website.
The farm will open for business on Saturday, November 20th. Pre-cut appointments only will be offered from November 20th to November 24th. Hours during this time are noon to 6 PM. The farm will be closed on Thanksgiving. Starting with the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 26th, through Sunday, December 5th, field-cut and pre-cut appointments will offered. Hours during this time are 10 AM to 6 PM. From Monday, December 6th until they close for the season, they will be open from noon to 6 PM. The farm will not close until they are all out of trees that are for sale. Complimentary train rides and hot cocoa will also return on weekends. A full list of hours is available on their website.
When you make your visit, the trees that are for sale will have a tag. The color of the tag will denote the type of tree. Fraser fir trees are their number one bestsellers, indicated by a yellow tag. These trees are imported from Michigan, Maine, and even Canada. You’ll find on the tag the type of tree, how tall the tree is, and its price. Trees come in a variety of sizes and have a price corresponding to their size. Most medium-size trees fall into the $65 to $80 range. Once you have picked out a field-cut or pre-cut tree, the farm will shake and bail the tree for you.
Reifenberg says supply chain and labor shortages have impacted the farm. They have encountered issues with west coast supplies. There is a backlog of goods and the short supply has raised the price for these goods. This makes it more expensive to have these items shipped to their gift shop. There is also a shortage of truck drivers to import their trees. As a result, it is extra expensive for the labor, gas, and chemical charges.
Therefore, items at the farm, including the trees, will be more expensive. However, Reifenberg says the tree shortages they see this year are nothing unusual. They do not import trees from the Pacific Northwest that has been most impacted by the weather. Besides the shortage of truck drivers to haul their imported trees in, a lack of young farmers growing trees for themselves is the other big issue. Reifenberg says there is a need for more young tree farmers to help sustain the business. With the trees taking 7 to 12 years to grow, more planting is needed.
Ultimately, the couple does not feel things are any worse than they were last year, but the market is tight. Luckily, the weather locally has not impacted the trees on the farm very much. The colder and drier weather is very welcome and will help the trees.
Reifenberg adds she is grateful for all of the support and generosity shown by the community. She hopes to participate in the Christmas Spirit Foundation’s Trees for Troops program again this year, which helps donate trees to military families. You can find out more by visiting the farm’s website, Facebook, and Instagram accounts.