Longtime Ringgold Christmas tree farmers say business declines year to year
The Kittle Christmas Tree farm in Ringgold has been around for 40 years, having opened its doors in 1978. Business today, unfortunately, isn't as booming as it once was.
The farmers and workers there are all related; Adam Kittle says his grandfather started the business on the farm where he and his family grew up.
"We take clippers at the bottom six inches, we cut the limbs off of them when they're small," Kittle said, explaining how they groom the trees. "Gives you room for your presents and stuff, then we trim about three or four times a year."
Today Kittle and his family are working a little harder to get customers out this year than in years past.
"There's a lot more farms that opened up," Kittle said. "When we first opened up, we were the only one. We were the first Christmas farm in North Georgia."
Year to year, sales and demand decline as competition rises. Kittle says they planted about 900 trees this year. That's compared to 3,000 about 10 years ago.
While business gets tougher every year, loyal customers, like Moses Ingle who buys a tree every year, help keep the farm running.
"It's something we can do with the family," Ingle said. "It's not the same, I mean, the artificial trees don't have the smell. I'd rather buy a new tree every year."
While the Kittle farm is forced to plant fewer trees every year, they say what they're really selling is that family experience. That's what motivates them to keep trying to grow.
"We were all raised on this farm, there are four generations of us that grew up there, we just pitch in whenever we have to," said Kittle,
Those farmers say they took a big hit in 2016, when a severe drought over the summer killed about 500 of their trees. They will continue to see Christmas trees up until Christmas day.