I grew up in a home that always had an artificial Christmas tree and these days, I am not much of a holiday decorator. Not to mention, I cannot recall ever visiting a real Christmas tree farm. But when I discovered I was near Hunter Bros. Tree Farm just north of Chariton in Lucas County on a recent Sunday afternoon, I definitely had to satisfy my curiosity.
Hunter Bros. is a diversified family farm operation and they have received awards for their work as good neighbors and in leading edge conservation practices.
As you pull up to the farm, you are greeted by a sign that signals that you are definitely at the right place.
I found ample parking on the edge of what appears to be many acres of trees, at various stages of maturity. For early December, it was unseasonably warm and there was no snow, but it was still enjoyable to walk through the rows of evergreens.
I even spotted a family getting some photos taken, presumably for their holiday greeting cards.
Several Hunter family members or employees were busy working on wreath making in a small barn that served as a place for patrons to pay for their trees. Others were outside preparing pre-cut trees to be sent home with families. Though, I know you can go out and cut down your own tree if that is your kind of thing. I imagine it won't be quite as interesting as the opening scenes from National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, however.
One of the highlights of the stop was checking out the one-room schoolhouse that had been moved onto the property and converted into a delightful holiday decor store. It's nice to see that this historic schoolhouse has been preserved and given a new life. There was a wide array of gorgeous decorations and I especially enjoyed the complimentary hot cider and cookies, which were quite delicious.
Christmas may be less than two weeks away, but there is still time to adventure to Chariton or one of several other Iowa tree farms. The Iowa Christmas Tree Growers has a great website that is a good resource to find one near you.
Check out the Hunter Bros on Facebook to learn more and keep an eye on their events and offers. I did not happen to leave with a tree, but I did leave feeling a bit more festive.
I hope to get back to Lucas County sometime soon to see more of what I missed on this trip. If you have a suggestion for an stop on an Iowa adventure, either in Lucas County or any of the other 98 counties, please drop me a note and I will add it to a future itinerary.