Thanksgiving is approaching, and to many, this holiday brings thoughts of turkey, sweet potatoes and time with family. For others, this holiday is a reminder of what comes next: Christmas.
If you are in the latter of the two and find yourself anxiously awaiting the day after Thanksgiving, then we have the perfect addition to your seasonal traditions.
Big Sky Farm, in Portland, Tennessee, started as a hobby farm in 2000, and has since turned into a full-time business, selling up to 2,500 Christmas trees during the holiday season.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the owner, Justin Diel, and his daughter, Savannah Hayes, who manages the farm. Diel and Hayes gave our team a glimpse into agribusiness and agritourism and, of course, Christmas trees.
The family started its original tree farm in Hendersonville and only in recent years, moved to Portland as an expansion of the business.
“We had a few extra acres of land,” Diel explained. “And so, we started planting our first 500 trees on January 1, 2000.”
It takes six to 10 years for trees to grow up according to Diel, and “though we planted the first tree in 2000, it was like six or seven years later before we actually opened and started selling to customers.”
Today, Big Sky Farm offers a variety of tree species, garland, wreaths and other greenery.
And, if a live tree isn’t for you, the Diel family has created a full Christmas experience with wagon rides and a live nativity this year. Hayes shared, “We want people and families to experience Christmas in a way that they might not get in their apartment or home.”
Big Sky Farm is just one example of the wide array of businesses that operate in Tennessee and choose our state because of the quality of life that can be experienced here.
Diel is a native Tennessean and said that Tennessee’s best attributes are its people and its landscape.
He continued to share that his family got its start in the tree business because everyone enjoyed being outside together. Tennessee’s three distinct parts in terms of topography from West to the Middle to East remind Diel why they started Big Sky Farm in the first place.
Diel’s daughter shares the same sentiment.
She was just six months old when her parents planted the first 500 trees, and today, she is a full-time employee of the farm, commuting daily from her home in Kentucky.
Hayes loves the charm of the people here. “The guests, customers and families that come are the ‘why’ behind what we do,” she said. “They’re so kind.”
The story of Big Sky Farm and its family-focused mission serves as a reminder about what is important during the holiday season.
Diel and his daughter run the tree farm together.
For Hayes, it is a dream come true that wasn’t anticipated but has become the perfect fit for her.
For Diel, he applied his background in corporate management to running his family business. He mentioned that “it can be hard at times, but being able to achieve something as a family is very rewarding.”
In addition to the immediate family, Big Sky Farm employs seasonal workers who have become like family, too, and help to create the family experience.
As for the future of Big Sky Farm, the Diels hope to become a year-round agritourism location, generating events to highlight more than just the Christmas season.
But for now, don’t miss your opportunity to stop by Big Sky Farm where the Diel family has built its business around the spirit of Christmas and togetherness.
Visit Big Sky Farm’s website to learn more about its offerings and events this holiday season and beyond.