Tree farms help create family traditions
By JOLENE STEVENS
MARCUS – Selecting one’s own Christmas tree has long been a part of the holiday season. For some, including Jeff and Kara Spieler and sons, Ty, 11; Lance, 9; and Cole, 6, finding just the right tree has come to mean even more.
The Lenox, S.D., residents, were combining their visit to Country Pines Christmas Tree Farm with their Thanksgiving visit to the home of Merle and Linda Spieler, of Marcus.
Having spent the Thanksgiving weekend with family, the Spielers’ thoughts turned to Christmas.
“We’ve spent the last five years getting our tree here,” said Kara Spieler, as she watched her sons give close inspection to a nearby tree – one of 4,000 on the tree farm operated by Neal and Marie Bork. “It’s a tradition that means a lot to our kids that they have a fresh tree.
“What does it mean to us? It’s a family event we can do together.”
She said the visit also meant having their picture taken as their tree was cut and trimmed and to enjoy just “walking around the land” as they selected their tree.
Also enjoying a visit to Country Pines was Bei Yi, of Guangzhou, China, spending a year as a foreign exchange language instructor at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake.
“It’s fun,” Yi said. “and I’m learning very much about your Christmas customs here in the United States.”
Yi and a fellow BV instructor, Robbie Ludy, moved in close to hear Marie Bork tell how she and her husband started the tree farm.
Bork, a former Iowa State University Extension 4-H and youth director in Cherokee and Plymouth counties, said she and her husband were customers of another tree farm, owned and operated by Roger Iverson, of Sioux City.
“Our operation just parachuted from there I guess,” Bork said. “We ended up thinking it a great idea. We bought this acreage that had lots of trees around it. We took those trees down, and in 1990, planted our first Christmas tree.
Bork said they sold their first Country Pines trees in 1995 to “a few friends, neighbors and relatives, “with tree sales “really getting going” a year later.
The trees arrive at the farm as 6- to 12-inch seedlings from an Indiana location with a soil type comparable to that in northwest Iowa.
“The most meaningful thing for us is to see families,” Bork said, “some two generations of them, sometimes three coming together to get the family tree.
“At times we’ve had as many as 15 members of a family all having a good time wandering around and picking out their tree and selecting a wreath.
She said it’s gratifying that customers choose Country Pines to continue or start a tradition of cutting real trees.
Everyone setting out to find their tree, Bork said, has a different opinion on what they want depending on where it will be in placed in their home,
Bork said she leaves the decision for their own tree to her husband, while stipulating it must be a “big, beautiful and airy” tree allowing for display of her favorite ornaments.
“I think every Christmas tree is beautiful,” she said.
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