SIDNEY — It’s Christmas at Crossway Farms.
One might say it’s the first Christmas at Crossway Farms.
After 20 years of selling fruits and vegetables at the Great Sidney Farmer’s Market and 10 years of supplying customers at the farm at 2211 Cisco Road through “pumpkin season,” owners Angie and Jason Frantom have opened the Christmas Barn there.
“People are thrilled we’re open longer,” Angie said.
Stocked with gift baskets, tree stands and ornaments inside and fresh-cut trees outside, the barn welcomes shoppers looking for presents to give or decorations to keep.
Walking into the barn is stepping into a rustic holiday. A 13-foot tall Canaan fir tree bedecked in red and gold towers over gaily-wrapped packages. Below it, on wooden crates and pallets, glittering tabletop sleighs sprout greens and red-ribboned pine cones. Mail boxes are draped with more of the same.
Pressed tin buckets hold greens and stems of bright red berries. Smaller red pails smile “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”
A small tin sleigh sits ready to deliver a holly-and-pine-cone wall decoration while, nearby, a red toy truck carries a load of fir boughs and pine cones as it stops on a white, crocheted doily.
There are a wooden slat tree urging customers to “Have yourself a merry little Christmas,” replica antique lanterns filled with pine cones, tree ornaments of wood and metal, white pine roping and fir wreaths, all just waiting for customers to take them home.
An old wagon wheel, a shiny garbage can and a rusted milk can add to the coming-home-to-country-Christmas feel.
“Two years ago, when (the Frantoms) hired me on full time after I got out of college, we kind of talked about (opening for Christmas),” said their daughter, Courtney Diltz, of Tipp City, who is the market manager.
“It took two years for us to take the leap,” laughed Angie.
“And we really love Christmas,” Diltz added.
Assisting with the operation are the rest of the family: Diltz’s husband, David; her sister and brother-in-law, Bekkah and Trevor Snapp; her brother, Izaak Frantom, 17; and the Frantom’s two great-nieces, Heidi, 10, and Kenna Fahnestock, 8.
“We all work together. We hire a few friends. Everyone loves the farm,” Angie said.
It’s where she grew up. Jason also was raised on a farm; his, just south of Sidney.
During the growing season, almost everything they sell is grown at Crossway Farms.
“Whatever we don’t grow, we try to source local,” Jason said. They’ve followed the same philosophy with the Christmas items.
Wooden ornaments are crafted by a friend in Tipp City. Christmas tree boxes are handmade in Anna.
A room off the barn is filled with mouthwatering comestibles: honey (“From two miles down the road,” Jason said), syrup from Covington, beef, pork and chicken from Kettlersville, salsa from Millersburg, jams, salad dressings, fruit butters, cheese, noodles, popcorn.
Shoppers can create their own gift baskets by choosing items with which to fill them.
“You can walk through the store and pick. Some people like all hot stuff, and some people like mild. Everybody’s different for what they like,” Angie said.
“They can customize it for what price range they want to spend, too,” added Diltz.
Christmas Barn staff will wrap the baskets and finish them off with big, bright bows.
“The gift baskets have gone over way better than we thought. We got a couple of big orders. It’s great that people are willing to support local,” Diltz said.
The trees, cut fresh each week, come from a tree farm near Columbus. There are Canaan firs, douglas firs and concolor firs available.
“The concolor is extremely aromatic. It smells like an orange,” Jason said.
While parents pick out the perfect tree, their youngsters can play in a straw maze and corn pit — like a sandbox, but filled with corn kernels — in a barn nearby.
Next year, the farmers hope to plant Canaan and douglas firs and blue spruces at Crossway.
The plan is to develop a cut-your-own tree farm; but it will take five years before the evergreens approach cutting size. That’s OK. The family is willing to wait. After all, it’s taken two decades to get to the Christmas Barn.
It was 20 years ago that Angie quit her day job and began baking full time.
“That’s how it started. My sister (Deb Fahnestock is now deceased) and I would bake Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and go downtown (to the farmer’s market to sell), Saturday,” she said. Although baked goods are not for sale in the Christmas Barn, Angie continues to bake during the summers.
“I’ve got it down to one thing: a Pennsylvania Dutch coffee cake that was (Jason’s) family recipe,” she said. “I make a lot of those.”
During the holiday season, Crossway Farms is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The website is www.crosswayfarms.com. A Facebook page is updated twice a week. To order gift baskets by phone or get information, call 937-210-1590.