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Piney Paradise hosts statewide conference

Stacey Hartley • Jun 29, 2019 at 10:00 AM

A family-owned and operated business in Norwalk will hold the annual Ohio Christmas Tree Growers Association meeting this weekend. 

“We’ve been full-go preparing for it,” said Gary Bauer of the Piney Paradise Christmas Tree Farm, which was selected to host two years ago.

The non-profit organization (OCTA) is made up of Christmas tree growers throughout Ohio and has about 200 members. The Bauer's are expecting to nearly 100 visitors.

Despite some association members coming from larger cities with a stock of 100,000 trees, the 20,000 at Piney Paradise are enough to require all hands on deck from the Bauer clan.

Like his parents and two sisters, Scott attended The Ohio State University and will be joined by more of the college alumni at the upcoming event.

“Agri-tourism is becoming more widely known. And the people coming from Ohio State all have their own specific disciplines” he said.

Those disciplines include entomologists (who study insects) botanists, horticulturists and even disease specialists, to name a few. 

While receiving a higher education is championed in most places, the Bauers prefer family members and close neighbors who have done that type of work before, to work alongside them in their fields. 

For those who wonder why the family doesn’t just mow through their fields (instead of using hand-held blades that need to be sharpened), “a whole season’s growth can be negatively affected by poor shearing,” warned Mary, Scott’s mother, while deciding which shears to use between she and Scott. 

“Plus, I’ve been on this mower endlessly already . . . That’s not counting the mowing that still needs done today,” Gary said laughing.

Agreeing with his mother, Scott said “it can be hard to find people who can do this labor-intensive work.”

“We’ve been lucky to have a few teenagers that know (what they’re doing) . . . so when you can get that good high school help, you better hang on to ‘em.”

“Shearing the trees with just two people takes a lot of time” Mary said. “But with four or five (people shearing) a lot more can get done.”

The Bauer clan has been able to delegate and complete work tasks relatively well.

“We plan what (work) we’re going to do during Sunday dinners,” Gary said, an advantage the patriarch said Piney Paradise has over larger or more commercial tree businesses.  

Another advantage of their smaller business is the loyal, local customers who come out yearly with their families, in all states of dress, just to find that perfect tree.

“We have a family that every year calls and tells us to ‘save our worst trees’ for them,” Scott said, “and they’re serious. There is a tree here for every person, every family.”

Piney Paradise Christmas tree farm is located at 677 W. South Norwalk Road in Norwalk.

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