End of a tradition: Tower Family Christmas Tree Farm to close in mid-December

Tucked away at the end of a half-mile gravel road just south of the Lowell Bridge, the Tower Family Christmas Tree Farm has long been known for its lush and rolling terrain on the banks of the Flatrock River.

If you’ve ever enjoyed the farm’s rustic holiday charm, this may be the last year you will be able to recapture that experience.

Although the 30-year-old establishment at 4416 W. Lowell Road still has a strong and loyal clientele, the farm will close permanently on or about Dec. 15, co-owner Ed Tower said.

The reason why includes an increasing work load for a husband and wife that reached the conventional retirement age quite some time ago, Tower said. While their children and other relatives have always enjoyed the family business, Tower says adult children like son Jason and daughter Jeanette believe it’s time for their mother and father to enjoy their retirement years.

But what may be the most significant reason for the Towers’ retirement could be attributed to supply-chain issues – especially those involving the popular Fraser Fir trees imported from out of state.

Last year, the farm’s supplier was only able to provide 60% of the ordered Fraser Fir trees, Ed Tower said. In processing the trees that did make it to Bartholomew County, the Towers discovered many were dropping needles and leaving the tips of branches bare.

“Out of that 60%, 100 of them had to be culled out,” Tower said. “All told, our inventory was 48% of what we originally ordered for 2021.”

The couple decided not to go with that supplier this year. But then, Ed Tower discovered there was a Fraser Fir tree shortage nationwide.

“There just isn’t any other place to go to,” he said.

A retired Columbus East High School math and science teacher, Ed Tower began planting trees in 1984 as a hobby that his whole family could engage in. Cathy Tower is also retired after a career as a math teacher at the middle school and adult-education levels.

The appeal of the rustic setting is undeniable. Extended family members from as far away as Colorado and Minnesota have made the drive to Bartholomew County to pitch in during peak times, Ed Tower said. And the adult children and their kids have regularly helped out during weekends, he added.

“They are still doing that, but their families are getting older,” Tower said, adding his children and grandkids have not been able to donate as much of their weekends as they have in the past.

Over the past three decades, the the Tower Family Christmas Tree Farm has provided many customers, as well as family members, plenty of memories.

Just prior to being interviewed for this story, Ed Tower said he was chatting with a man who was a newlywed when he came to the tree farm during its first year of operation. The customer and his wife, who have returned every year, will be celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary, Tower said.

They are among a number of loyal customers who tell Tower they appreciate his operation and how much their annual visit helps to get them to get into the Christmas spirit.

“While we try to promote that feeling, it’s not about our trees,” Tower said. “When they get the tree home and put their decorations on it, that is when they begin to get their holiday memories and the tree really becomes beautiful.”

If you go

Tower Family Christmas Tree Farm, 4416 W. Lowell Road, is open only by appointment until mid-December.

Weekday hours are 3 to 5:30 p.m, while the farm is open weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The half-mile gravel drive to the farm is located immediately south of the Lowell Bridge, across from the entrance to County Road 325W.

For more information: 651-747-9161 or 812-378-3505