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Local Christmas tree farmers create the family experience

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

By Kalea Hall


A Christmas tree takes seven to 10 years to raise. It’s planted, watched over and cared for by its planters for all those years.

Tree farmers know it’s a lengthy labor of love, but they also know they help to create lasting memories for families.

The Lavalliere family of Hubbard – mom Tiffany, dad Matthew and their girls: Madeline, Macie and Jocelyn – make it a yearly tradition to go out and get their real Christmas tree.

“We just like the whole experience of going on the horse-drawn carriage,” Tiffany said after warming up at the fire at Pioneer Trails Tree Farm in Poland.

The Lavallieres picked out a Fraser fir this year. The Fraser fir is considered to have good form, needle retention and a pleasant scent, according to the National Christmas Tree Association.

“It’s nice and dark green and smells so good,” Tiffany said.

Pioneer Trails Tree Farm is run by the Perdullas – Mary Jan and her son Charles. Mary Jan’s other children, Amy and Matthew, also help out at the farm.

“They are all an integral part of the business,” Mary Jan said.

Mary Jan got into the Christmas tree business through her father, who ran a farm in Ashtabula County.

She started her own farm with her husband, Frank, who is now retired, in the 1980s. Initially, the Perdullas had 25 acres with just a couple of acres of evergreens added at a time.

“Now, we have a total of 52 acres with about 40 acres of evergreens,” Mary Jan said.

Trees have been growing at the Stepuk Tree Farm in Canfield since the late 1950s when Paul Stepuk started the farm. His son Mark now runs the farm with help from family and servicemen since Mark is in the National Guard. The work is year-round at this tree farm, too, but Black Friday weekend and the first two weekends of December are always the busiest and bustling with the spirit of holiday season. The farm has 30 acres of trees for families to find the perfect one.

“The biggest thing is the family experience out at the farm,” Stepuk said. “It’s an adventure to go out and pick [your own] out.”

The Fodor Tree Farm in Poland has been in business since the 1960s.

Today, Tara and Jon Fodor run the 11-acre farm with about 4 acres of trees and have since 2009. The wreaths start to sell out during the first week of December at the Fodor Tree Farm.

“It’s kind of what we are known for,” Tara said.

All of the tree farmers say their jobs are about creating the experience for customers, so they keep coming back. That experience includes giving customers the tools to get their trees, offering varieties of trees to choose from and the service of shaking, baling and drilling the trees so they are ready to be put up and decked out.

“Most of the artificial trees are made overseas, and supporting a real Christmas tree farm is good for the environment and the economy,” Mary Jan said.