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Family traditions abound at Christmas tree farm

With Christmas just one week away, many families have already dragged boxes from the attic in preparation for decorating their family Christmas tree.

There is a vast array of artificial trees for sale in department stores and home improvement stores and tree lots offer customers one way to select a “real” tree. Many families, however, opt cut their own tree by making a visit to a tree farm.

Ralph and Susana Dimmick have owned and operated Dimmick’s Tree Farm on their property, located at 901 McFee Road in Farragut, for more than 22 years. “We bought the property (10 acres) in nineteen seventy five,” Ralph said. “I planted my first tree that year and we were able to sell Christmas trees seven years later.”

Because of a seedling failure and a recent drought, the Dimmicks were unable to sell trees in 2003. “Last year was the only year since we have been open that we couldn’t sell trees,” Susana said. “It just broke our hearts.”

Susana added that next year will be a good year and the following year will be even better. “We should have about five hundred trees in a couple of years,” she said.

The Dimmicks opened for the season the day after Thanksgiving and sold out at the end of the day Sunday, Dec. 5. Ralph said there is more to the process than just selecting and cutting a tree. “It is all about the experience,” he said. “It’s a very important tradition for a lot of families. It’s special to them.”

The Dimmicks are now selling trees to third generation families. “We are the only tree farm in Farragut and we like being here for the community, Ralph said.

The Wilkins, Purcell and Duncan families have made the Dimmick Tree Farm part of their holiday tradition for more than seven years.

“We all meet for breakfast and then we drive here and pick out our trees,” Joanna Wilkins said. She and her husband, Grant, and their two sons, Jacob and Jeremy, selected a seven-foot Scotch pine.

David and Lynn Purcell spotted their tree right away and helped their friends Sue and Verlin Duncan select theirs.

“This has been a really nice tradition for all of us,” Lynn said. “We have a lot of great memories from Dimmicks.”

Susana said she and Ralph enjoy living “out in the country.”

“We bought the property and started the tree farm as a possible supplemental income for our retirement,” Susana said. She added that Ralph was a professor at the University of Tennessee for 34 years and is now “semi-retired.”

“Ralph spends a great deal of time shaping and trimming the trees,” she said. “He goes out in July and trims each one by hand.”

The Dimmicks have a man-made pond on their property and a vast array of wildlife.

“We have a flock of wild turkeys, about 60 in all, several ducks and a few coyote,” Susana said.

The Dimmicks said they plan to continue selling Christmas trees as long as they can.

“I just planted one thousand white pines this fall,” Ralph said.

He said the fresh cut trees will stay fresh long past Christmas. “I spray a color retention solution on the trees in the fall so that they will stay green,” Ralph said.

Upon arrival at Dimmick’s Tree Farm, customers are given a pole to measure the height of their tree and a hand saw. Ralph puts the tree in a mesh bag and helps his customers get the tree placed on or in their car. The trees sell for $4.50 per foot.

Customers are asked to choose a tree that is at least six feet tall.

“If they start walking up here with five-footers, I get concerned because that’s next years crop,” he said.

The Dimmicks have a mailing list to let their customers know of opening dates for next season. Susana makes spiced tea and provides an assortment of candy for the children.“We enjoy the whole experience,” Susana said. “It makes us feel good to know that our tree farm is such an important part of so many family Christmases.”


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