Local tree farm opens for holiday season

EDWARDSBURG — For years, Edwardsburg resident Ted Schrader has had a dream to open a small farm — specifically, a Christmas tree farm.

Schrader is not sure where the dream came from. Maybe it came from his love of the outdoors or growing up near his grandmother’s 40-acre farm in Edwardsburg. Perhaps it was his desire to create a renewable source of farming that matched what his land was able to grow. Maybe it was as simple as knowing that an artificial tree could never measure up to the family tradition of picking out and cutting down a fresh fir.

“I don’t know if it came from that or what,” Schrader said with a laugh, recalling all the times he would choose the perfect tree from a neighbor’s lot. “I think it’s just one of those crazy ideas you get sometimes.”

This weekend, Schrader will be able to finally see that dream come to life.

Schrader Tree Farm, 65770 Conrad Road, Edwardsburg, will open for its first Christmas season by appointment Saturday. The small, family-owned farm will offer a small selection of pre-cut Christmas trees, in addition to an open-air market, where customers can purchase wreaths, ornaments and other holiday items.

“With COVID and everything, we weren’t sure we should even open or not,” Schrader said. “Everything is going to be outside, and the few trees we do have we figured we would mostly sell to family and friends, so we figured, ‘why not open for the season?’ We wanted to get the word out and let people know we are here.”

Schrader Tree Farm got its start last spring when Schrader planted 400 different spruce and fir trees.

Eventually, Schrader hopes to have about four acres of Christmas trees on his farm for the public to view, peruse and cut.

Outside of the Christmas season, the farm is host to other activities, including beekeeping.

“Everything we’ve planted is only about a foot tall right now, so we won’t have choose-and-cut for probably four or five years if everything goes well,” Schrader said, adding that he is excited to see the trees’ growth. “It will look pretty cool once we get everything grown-up, but it just takes time.”

While the trees Schrader planted will not be ready to cut and sell for a few years still, Schrader said he is happy — if nervous — to welcome the public this year for pre-cut tree and market sales.

“It’s going to be an odd year this year with COVID, and it’s probably going to be different from any other season we are open,” he said. “We’ve been thinking about our first Christmas for a long time, so hopefully it’s a good season.”

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