Nov. 19—BLUE SPRINGS — When April Voyles was growing up in New Albany, she and her mom always had a fresh tree at Christmas.
"I remember going to Christmas tree farms or a tree lot or to Uncle Jack's house to cut a cedar tree," she said.
When she and her husband, Brandon, wed almost 18 years ago, they continued that tradition.
"The first year we were married, I went out and cut a cedar tree," Brandon said. "Our ceilings were 17 feet tall, and we still had trouble getting that tree in the house. It was way too big."
Both of the Voyleses love having a fresh tree at Christmas, and they wanted to continue that custom with their children, Logan and Lily. So every year, the family would drive two or three counties away to a farm to snag a fresh tree.
Four years ago, they decided to start their own Christmas tree farm.
"We'd had this land for 14 years," April said. "Brandon wanted to plant the bottom with pine trees, and I said, 'What about Christmas trees instead?'"
The couple started talking about the logistics of a farm in 2018 and had intentions of getting trees planted in 2019, but they couldn't seem to get hooked up with the right people.
In February 2020, everything came together, and the couple planted 250 Virginia pines and 350 cypress trees on their land in Blue Springs.
"The trees we'll cut this year are almost 3 years old," April said.
In fact, this year marks the first time trees will be cut from Foggy Bottom Farm, located at 1606 Highway 348. Last year, the farm was open, but the couple sold only pre-cut trees from the North.
"This year, I'd say we'll have 150 of our trees to be cut," Brandon said. "They'll range from 7- to 10-feet tall, and go for $12 a foot."
The farm will be open to the public for the first time this season on Nov. 26, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Folks will be able to pick out trees to cut and take home as well as enjoy other things the farm will be selling, like hot cocoa, milk and cookies, fresh wreaths and garlands, Christmas accessories and ornaments. In addition, Santa will be there for photo opportunities from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Virginia pines need a few more years to grow, so only cypress trees will be available for cutting, Brandon said. Varieties include Leighton Green, Ovensii, Castlewellan Gold, Blue Ice and Mexican Cypress.
"All the cypress are hypo-allergenic, so even people who suffer from allergies have been known to function normally with these in their home," said April, a registered nurse who teaches health science at the Career and Technical Center in New Albany. "The Mexican cypress is my favorite tree. It has a citrus smell, and it's very feathery."
In years to come, there'll be many more trees available for cutting at the farm. The Voyleses planted 600 more cypress trees in both 2021 and 2022, and hope to plant another thousand in 2023.
"The Virginia pines we planted were seedlings, but all the cypress trees come in 1- or 2-gallon containers," Brandon said. "The cypress trees come from growers in Louisiana."
The couple will also have about 50 pre-cut Douglas Fir and Frasier Fir trees from Michigan for sale on Nov. 26. Those trees will range from 7 to 14 feet.
The Voyleses have two miniature donkeys — Hazel and Festus — and three babydoll sheep — Zeb, Daisy and Nelly Belle — who will join in the festivities next week.
"We're trying to get a live Nativity together," April said. "We've got the donkeys and the sheep, but we may draw the line at a camel. That's probably not gonna happen."
After opening day, Foggy Bottom Farm will be open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. until all the trees are gone.
"People tell us customers aren't coming out here just to buy a tree," April said. "They're coming for the experience."