Family farm provides Christmas tree experience

Families visit Radde Tannebaum Farm to seek out the perfect Christmas tree, cut it down and bring it home to decorate for the holidays. Photo Courtesy of Radde Tannenbaum Christmas Tree Farm

By Mariah Bennett | Staff Writer

Primarily a choose-and-cut farm, the Radde Tannebaum Farm aims to bring the family experience each holiday season.

Since experimentally planting its first Afghan Christmas trees in 1986, the Radde Tannebaum Farm — which is owned by Kenneth and Kathy Radde — has grown into a 9-acre farm. The Christmas tree farm opens at 3 p.m. the day after Thanksgiving, which is Nov. 26 this year, and is located on 2511 County Road in Meridian.

The farm has a gift shop and photo opportunities daily, and it offers free hot spice punch and hay rides on the weekends. According to its website, it is part of a ranch purchased in 1946 by Kenneth Radde’s parents, Sam and Doris Radde. Today, it brings customers into its relaxed atmosphere to experience a unique holiday activity.

“It’s truly a family experience to come and get a tree,” Kenneth Radde said. “I don’t know of any [other] business that you can be in where you have happier customers.”

The farm grows Eldricia, or Afghan, pines; this year, the pines range from 6 to 8 feet. Customers get to choose and cut the pines themselves, and they end up with what Kenneth Radde described as “a fresher Christmas tree than any other.” Additionally, the farm supplies North Carolina-grown Fraser firs.

“If customers have children, a lot of times they want to have the joy of cutting down their own tree,” Kathy Radde said. “It’s really a lot of fun to experience the excitement of the kids and families that come.”

Kathy Radde said caring for the trees consists of mowing, trimming and keeping an eye on them. She also said it takes at least five years for the trees to grow.

“We mow a lot,” Kathy Radde said. “You plant a seedling that’s about a foot tall, and it takes at least five to six years to get a tree the size you need for somebody’s house.”

Kenneth Radde said the trimming is done to make sure the trees keep their good shape.

“The Afghan pine naturally has a shape that is upright and a Christmas tree shape,” Kenneth Radde said. “By shearing at least once a year, we can cause the needles, limbs and branches all to be thicker, closer together and have a more desirable look.”

Kathy Radde said they work with other family members and friends to tend to the farm and gift shop.

“It’s like a family-friend enterprise,” Kathy Radde said.

Kenneth Radde said one of the most fulfilling parts of being a Christmas tree farm owner is that it is a business that brings happiness.

“Unlike any other retail business you can be in, you’ll almost never have an unhappy customer because one, it’s Christmas, and two, it’s an enjoyable experience with the family to get out in the real country,” Kenneth Radde said.