There aren’t many people excited about working in the cold, but it’s a labor of love at two Christmas tree farms in northern Forsyth County.
At the Bottoms Christmas Tree farm at 5880 John Burruss Road and The Kinsey Family Farm at 7170 Jot Em Down Road the families who operate the farms feel like they can provide customers with something regular stores cannot.
“They love coming out to the farm and getting that farm atmosphere,” said Nathan Bottoms with the Bottoms Farm. “Getting that hot cup of apple cider, roasting marshmallows, making s’mores, doing hay rides, seeing the farm animals [and] just checking out the farm life and the tree farm life that’s still around today and still prevalent but maybe not so much where they come from.”
Rebecca Smith, who was at the farm with her family, said they come to the Bottoms’ farm every year.
“I think it’s gorgeous,” Smith said.
The Bottoms’ farm grows 6,000-8,000 at any given time and is co-owned by Bottoms and his father, Dennis, and brother Matthew. The family has owned the farm since 1993, and Bottoms said it’s been a good experience working with family members.
“It’s always an adventure,” he said. “Working with family is fun. You definitely get close, sometimes closer than you want to be … we really enjoy it. My kids are getting to the age where they want to be on the tree farm. So now, it’s three generations, not just two.”
About 12 miles away is the 53-acre Kinsey Family Farm. Andy Kinsey, who operates the farm with brother, Kelly, said his family moved from New England in 1981 and for about 20 years ran a traditional farm raising cows, pigs and chickens.
I the early 2000s, the family started growing the trees as a side project.
“It just kind of blossomed,” Kinsey said. “In January 2002, we planted our first Christmas trees [and] started selling them in 2005. [We] could not be any more amazed at how well received it was from the community. What I’ve always told people is I kind of feel like the families around here are starved for quality outdoor, family activity.”
Kinsey said one of his favorite parts is providing the place that has become a part of thousands of families’ Christmas memories.
“It’s very cool,” he said. “The moments where you can kind of reflect back on the day or on the season, it is cool because we’ve had some really neat stories come out of this farm. We never realized until the last four or five years the impact this place has on other people’s lives.”
A day after unexpected weather across Forsyth County, particularly the north end of the county, the farms were still powdered with snow. Lisa Osborn said it was her first time coming to the farm and wanted to see what it looked like in the snow.
“It definitely feels more like Christmas than it did last weekend,” she said. “I love it. I love the whole step up.”
Her friend, Eileen Smith, likened the sight to a Hallmark movie.
While it might seem there could be a rivalry between two families both operating the same type of farm in the same county, you won’t find it between the Kinseys and the Bottoms.
“If anything, both of the families farming … has brought us even closer together,” Kinsey said. “It’s very much a team effort. We sort of feel like there are enough people in this county and surrounding counties that if one of us can’t do it successfully as teammates then that’s crazy.”
Bottoms said his family felt the same way and, if anything, the families had a common rival.
“I know Andy well and I talked to him yesterday on the phone,” Bottoms said. “We’ve grown to be good friends, and we have a lot of respect for them. And I think they feel the same way about us … I don’t see them as our rivals, and I think they would agree, our rivals are the supermarkets and big box stores.”
When asked what the farms offered that the stores did not, Bottoms had a simple answer.
“The experience,” he said. “I would believe that the kids will have better memories at a farm than at a big box store.”