By Keri Langhorst
Featured in Make It Minnesota’s Winter 2014 issue.
Hinkemeyer Tree Farm, nestled in central Minnesota, is a small business dedicated to providing a warm holiday experience as well as quality Christmas trees and wreaths to consumers. Randy and Cheryl Thiele are the owners, and they purchased the family business in 2013 from Cheryl’s parents. Last year was their first season as the owners. Cheryl shared, “It was a learning curve to be in charge of the farm instead of just helpers. It was also challenging because of the cold weather.” With a smile on her face she said, “We love what we do.” This holiday season will be a little less stressful because they know what to expect and also have excellent help from family and friends. Hopefully, it will be a warmer holiday season for customers to enjoy the outdoor experience of picking their tree.
The farm sells fir trees, spruce trees, and pine trees. A full description of each tree can be found on the website- www.hinkemeyertreefarm.com. The farm offers a variety of trees as different as their customers. All trees are beautifully manicured to add warmth and joy to your house while the ground outside is frozen. Adding vibrant ornaments and the smell of the outdoors is an oasis from the cold air of winter.
The most popular wreaths are the ones made from balsam fir, but they have many others from which to choose. The wreaths are lush green with a vibrant red bow. They are a beautiful welcoming symbol to your guests! Randy and Cheryl started a fund-raiser program focused on selling wreaths as an opportunity to give back to the community. It gives groups, such as scout troops, schools, etc., a chance to raise money.
The business started selling Christmas trees in 1971 and has continued to provide customers with high quality greenery for decorating their homes and spreading cheer during the holiday season. Cheryl commented with pride that “children of their customers are now coming with their own families and keeping up traditions.”
When customers stop at Hinkemeyer Tree Farm to purchase a Christmas tree, wreath, or other decorations, it’s not just another stop on their shopping list; it is a fun family event! It is the start of the holiday season. It’s an opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and to be outdoors. Randy and Cheryl are passionate about ensuring that the farm provides lots of opportunities for families to enjoy picking their tree. Activities include horse drawn sleigh rides, runner sleds, campfires, and a heated gift shop. The gift shop provides a place where families can warm up and pick a new ornament for the tree.
Randy and Cheryl’s farm opens November 23 and closes December 21. (Please check website for exact dates and times.) Although the farm is open to the public for only a few short weeks at the end of the year, it takes a lot of preparation throughout the year to ensure a successful season. January and February are the down months. Once the snow starts to melt in March or April, it’s time to start preparing for the next year. First, the fields are cleaned and stumps are cut. Next, after the frost is gone, the fields are fertilized and new trees are planted. In June, the trees are cut into the standard cone shape of a Christmas tree. The rest of the summer is spent maintaining the trees, which includes monitoring for pests like gophers and insects. In the fall, Randy and Cheryl walk through and tag trees that are ready to be sold. “Growing trees is hard work and the average tree is 8-12 years old when it is ready!” Cheryl said.
Though Hinkemeyer Tree Farm mostly serves families from the Little Falls, St. Cloud, and the Twin Cities areas, people traveling across the state for the holidays often make the farm a place to stop as well. Hinkemeyer Tree Farm also delivers to its customers!
For Randy and Cheryl, the most important aspect of the endeavor is family. They’re a family business that provides customers with an opportunity to come together as a family in the outdoors. Families come back year after year because they not only leave the farm with a tree, but also with an experience they’ve shared and a joyful start to the Christmas season.