Christmas Tree Lane
As magical as they may be, all decked out in lights that give the world a soft glow, the holidays are here and gone again in the blink of an eye, too quick to come and too swiftly over. That enchantment is something we wish we could hold onto, but for most of us, the Christmas season is just that—a season.
Standing on the ten acres of land where Jim and Karen Lane live, it’s obvious that Christmas influences much more than just one month of the year. The air is thick with it: the smell of 6,000 fresh evergreens, all waiting for their turn to become the centerpiece of someone’s holiday. But this land that now hosts so many Christmas trees wasn’t always so filled with Yuletide spirit. It took inspiration, time and a family filled with love.
Thirty-two years ago, when the Lanes had the initial idea of turning their property into a Christmas tree farm, their four children were still kids. They’d seen what a working Christmas tree farm was like when they visited a farm in Dover, Arkansas just two years prior. And, so, with seven acres of land next to their home at their disposal, they planted 500 Virginia pine trees and hoped that their vision for Christmas Tree Lane would be realized. But why Christmas trees?
For the Lanes, the answer was simple. “We both love Christmas,” says Jim. “Coming from a Christian background, our hope was to share the Christmas message of Jesus’ birth to our visitors. We also had a desire to raise our children with a strong work ethic, and we thought a Christmas tree farm would be a great way to instill the value of hard work while teaching business skills and reaping rewards.
And while they may have had ample fertile ground available, it wasn’t a simple thing to start the business. It took time and patience, not to mention a great deal of faith that all their hard work wouldn’t be for naught. “Growing Christmas trees is a slow process,” Jim admits. “It takes about five years before you have a marketable tree, so there’s a lot of upfront investment, both in time and money, before you see any profit.”
The Lanes’ investment proved worth it, taking root and thriving over the years so that they created not only a Christmas tree farm, but an entire experience. More than three decades in, their plot of land has increased in size by three acres and thousands of trees, perfectly situated along Highway 23 south of Ozark. On these ten acres, Christmas is in every breath you take—and everywhere you look.
Each year, from November through December, the Lanes host countless visitors to their farm, families and individuals all in search of their perfect tree—and, of course, a little bit of Christmas magic. “We like to add amenities to the farm each year,” says Jim. “This year, we’ve added a Cocoa Shack and some new photo prop areas for people to come and take selfies or group pictures.
A Christmas tree farm business is more about the experience than the purchase of a tree. We recognize that and do our best to entertain our guests while they are with us. We have a full gift shop with specialty ornaments, homemade items from local vendors, our own hot chocolate blend that is amazing, a live snowman, hayrides, lots of photo opportunities, and a free family photo with a tree purchase! We even have an area where people can just sit and play a game of checkers while watching the movie Elf.
We also offer school field trips that are ‘funner than Disney World,’ according to an eight-year-old kid named Ryan who came here once with his school. As we think ahead to the future and the legacy we want to continue, we’ve been expanding our farm for the last few years and are exploring the idea of a year-round Christmas store or building a venue for weddings or get-togethers that will host visitors throughout the year.”
Clearly, the Lanes realize both the worth of what they already have as well as its potential to become even more. They’ve created something incredibly special, an atmosphere and a feeling that people want to immerse themselves in—and, as guests in the Lanes’ Christmas cabin, one they can actually stay in.
Boasting three bedrooms and two baths, the spacious log cabin is available as an Airbnb listing throughout the year except during the Christmas season, when the Lanes utilize it themselves. Of course, it’s the setting that makes it such a unique destination. Nestled amidst the thousands of trees on the farm, the cabin is the epitome of rusticity, with a charming mixture of rusty metal and barnwood. And, as one would expect from any true Christmas cabin, a plethora of wintery things deck the halls – everything from sleds and ice skates to fairy lights draped from the vaulted ceiling.
All of it combines to create the perfect setting for such a magical season, but business doesn’t happen by magic. Naturally, there have been hurdles to clear in the Lanes’ thirty plus years of operation. “We’re at the mercy of nature, so we’ve had some unique challenges at our Christmas tree farm,” says Jim. “In 2011, we had an EF4 tornado tear through the middle of our farm. It took many years to recover from that. At any time, we could be facing drought, disease, or bugs. They’re all normal battles we fight.”
After so many years of living and breathing Christmas, one can only wonder if the luster has worn off or the magic has dulled. But the Lanes are every bit as enchanted by the season as they were in the beginning—perhaps even more so. “Every year, we fall deeper in love with Christmas and all that it represents,” says Jim. “How could you not love a day that celebrates the birth of our Savior? It’s incredible to have a business that is focused on that, and we so enjoy the feeling it instills in people. There is a joy in their spirit during the Christmas season that is so welcoming at our farm. Everyone is happy and excited.”
Naturally, the three weekends after Thanksgiving are the busiest for the Lanes, with Saturdays and Sundays being the busiest days of the week. And while the steady stream of people may make things a bit hectic, Jim and Karen try to visit with each guest who comes to the farm. “That can be quite a chore when we’re busy, but we believe that personal touch is meaningful,” Jim notes. “We also love kiddos and try to make their time with us magical. And, of course, we’ve taken pictures of all our guests since 1994. Seeing and visiting with them is very special to us, because we feel like we’ve become part of their family tradition.”
Family tradition is where it all started with the Lanes, and now their family has grown both older and larger—much like the farm. As the years go by, Jim and Karen can look at what they have created and know that they’ve given their family everything they hoped to give, and given the gift of magic to so many others.
VISIT CHRISTMAS TREE LANE!
Christmas Tree Lane
8102 S. Hwy. 23, Ozark, Arkansas
Visit christmastreelane.info or call 479.667.8412.