QUINCY – Bell’s Christmas Trees, a small business Ron and Marguerite Bell started more than 35 years ago to help fund their children’s education, has become an annual tradition for the Bells and hundreds of other families.
“For those people who want the live trees, they like to go to the farms and have that experience,” said Josh Bell, a son of Ron and Marguerite Bell. “They like walking around the farm and looking at trees and finding the perfect one.”
Josh Bell runs the Christmas tree farm on County Road 70 near Quincy with help from his three siblings and about half a dozen nieces and nephews. His mom died in 2018, but his dad still helps out some at the business, which is entirely family operated.
A lot of customers visit Bell’s Christmas Trees from local communities such as Fort Loramie and New Bremen, Josh Bell said, while others have come from places such as Coldwater, Bellefontaine, Marysville and Cincinnati.
“There’s a great deal of families that make it a tradition,” Josh Bell said.
The tradition started in 1984 as a way for Ron and Marguerite Bell to raise money for their kids to attend college.
“They decided back then that they’re going to have two boys that are going to be in college in several years so they needed help to finance that,” Josh Bell said.
The Bells already had a farm, which continues to grow crops such as corn and soybeans. They added evergreen trees to their offerings and now have approximately 10,000 trees spread across 5 acres.
“I guess it was kind of out of left field,” Josh Bell said, adding his family had no experience farming trees.
“It was just something that Mom and Dad tried, and it took off pretty well after that.”
The entire family helps out on the farm, especially during the Christmas season.
Josh Bell’s first job when he was a child was to put trees into holes that his dad or brother then would cover with soil. He now leads the entire operation, which includes planting 1,000 to 1,500 trees each year.
“There’s a lot of mowing and sometimes spraying and always trimming,” said Josh Bell, who also is a music teacher for the Mechanicsburg Exempted Village School District.
Bell’s Christmas Trees sells trees ranging from 5 feet tall to more than 25 feet tall. The farm has Scotch pine, white pine, blue spruce and Canaan fir trees available with the Canaan firs being the most popular.
Fraser firs, a popular Christmas tree variety, don’t grow in this region because they require sandy soil, Josh Bell said. But Canaan firs can be grown locally and share many of the same characteristics.
“I call them the first cousin to the Fraser fir,” Josh Bell said.
Some customers immediately find the tree they want among the thousands available at Bell’s Christmas Trees while other families spend more than an hour searching for the perfect tree.
The business sells approximately 300 to 400 Christmas trees a year, Josh Bell said. Most of the time the Bells cut down trees for their customers, but some families prefer to cut them down themselves.
“I suppose about 12 to 15 families come out every year that want to cut their own,” Josh Bell said. “They bring their saws and have their kids take turns helping cut it down.”
The best part of the business is interacting with customers, Josh Bell said. He enjoys talking with returning families about how they decorated their Christmas tree the previous year.
“The people,” he said of his favorite part of the business. “Visiting with people and finding out where they come from. Sometimes we talk about their family traditions.”
Along with trees, Bell’s Christmas Trees sells wreaths, grave blankets, evergreen roping and other items during the Christmas season. The business opens the day after Thanksgiving each year and closes shortly before Christmas Day.
For more information about Bell’s Christmas Trees, visit its Facebook page at http://bit.ly/35CrIcC or call 937-710-5981.
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-538-4824.