AMORY • For the Worthey family, helping other families complete the tradition of picking out a Christmas tree together is what keeps their family bond strong.
Lowell Worthey co-owns the Worthey Tree Farm with his wife, Linda. Their children, Carter and Alaina, also assist. Lowell Worthey said his family enjoys working together, and his kids have grown up working on the farm. While it is hard work, he said there is “nothing like working with family.”
“While we’re trimming trees, for instance, we can all be out there together and it’s kind of good to have a family bond where we can actually make decisions together and see what works good for us,” Lowell Worthey said.
He said it is easier to have several people help make decisions, and said over the years it has taught his children good work ethic and how to work with the public through firsthand experience. He said the older he gets, the more his children have gotten involved. His wife and daughter specialize in the gift shop, while his son and he focus on the trees.
“When they were children, we started (farming), and now they have their own better qualities of how to do things and have even started to help me do stuff. I hope they stay interested and then when they get married, hopefully ... their kids will be able to own and operate this,” Lowell Worthey said.
The Worthey Tree Farm was born out of a desire to continue the legacy of a previous Christmas tree farm. Lowell Worthey said he grew up on a traditional farm, but he got involved with Christmas tree farming after being hired at the Gray’s Tree Farm in 1982. It was his first job, and Lowell Worthey said he grew up working with them. Becoming a Christmas tree farmer himself came by chance, Lowell Worthey said.
Even in college, Lowell Worthey kept assisting at Gray’s Tree Farm and said he enjoyed helping and being part of family traditions. When the owners, David and Gray Vera, came to him about retiring, they asked him if he would be willing to take over the farm.
“I hated to see the farm close down and retire, so my wife and I, we decided to go ahead and jump in. My wife and I worked with them a lot and learned the trade,” Lowell Worthey said.
The Worthey family planted their first trees in 2007 and helped the Grays close their farm in 2010. By 2011, the Worthey Tree Farm was ready to open.
Lowell Worthey said being a family farm has brought them closer together and taught them how to communicate. While they sell trees from the first Saturday before Thanksgiving until Dec. 20, running the tree farm is a year-long operation. It takes four to six years for trees to grow for sale, and from January to September they focus on maintaining the trees, mowing, fertilizing and spraying the trees for fungi.
This year, the farm opened up a pumpkin patch to try to make the selling season longer, and Worthey said while Christmas trees will always be their focus, they are looking at other things they can do year round.
This year, the farm opened on Nov. 23, and Lowell Worthey said they saw thousands of customers. He said about 90 percent of the customers he sees each season come between opening weekend and Dec. 5. He said the farm has received support from the community, and thanks to social media, their outreach has stretched to where they now have customers who drive from as far as three hours away to buy a tree from them.
The farm shows appreciation to the community by trying to support local schools, parks and community parades. They try to make the farm atmosphere family friendly by having activities and animals for children.
Lowell Worthey said he appreciates the customers and is glad the farm can be a part of family traditions.
“In the 25 years that I’ve been associated with farming, you see families bring their small children out, but now I’ve been in it so long that I’m beginning to see those children bring their children, so it’s just a good thing to be a part of people’s traditions,” Lowell Worthey.