Talk of the Town - Christmas cheer December 30 2004
Thompson's Tree Farm in Lawrenceville grows holiday cheer year-round
Just minutes from the Mall of Georgia, Denise and Tommy Thompson have carved a niche for themselves on a six-acre farm in the midst of suburbia. Thompson's Tree Farm stretches behind their Lawrenceville home, which lies in a sparsely populated, new subdivision. Denise, a former elementary school employee and Tommy, who has worked for UPS for 26 years, started from scratch only a few years ago with no previous knowledge of tree farming.
This year, their zeal resulted in a successful season, selling more than 600 trees. However, the Thompsons' interest in Christmas trees goes beyond simple sales: They believe their business has helped revive families' cherished holiday rituals. For the past four years, a growing number of families have returned to the farm to choose, cut and buy Thompsons' trees as part of their holiday tradition.
When visitors arrive at the farm, they first see an immaculate white house with garland-adorned windows. To the left is a small shop, teeming with Christmas decor and homemade goods. In between, an alley leads down to rows of lacy Carolina sapphires, blue ice trees and scale-like Leyland Cypresses.
Creative Loafing: How did you start working with trees?
Tommy: It's my fault. About 30 years ago, a friend of mine and I went to Michigan to cut some trees for a couple of days and we brought them back and sold them. We brought about 600 of them. That's when I got it in my blood that I wanted to have a Christmas tree farm one day.
When you first began, what was it like?
Denise: We were very blessed when we first started, because the Atlanta Journal-Constitution did a feature article on us, and that kind of opened the door. Then, we were on CNN. They came over here and featured us. And then we were on Channel 5 News. That was all in the same year — 2001.
Is the work on the farm more seasonal or more of a year-round effort?
Tommy: All year. In February, we'll probably plant again. March, you've got weeds growing and you gotta kill them. April, you've got to start trimming all these trees. You've got to cut the grass all summer.
Denise: And then we have field trips on the farm. We did about 150 field trips this year. We do them from March until November. And then after that we have tours with hayrides and pet goats. During the trips, we entertain kids with puppet shows, activities and crafts.
How far away do your customers come from?
Denise: Griffin, Woodstock, Atlanta, Alpharetta — it's all over, not just from around here. I've got a lady that comes here every year from Griffin to pick her tree.