Tree farm remains staple of community
With the Christmas shopping season fully under way, Basehor residents need look no further than their own backyard when picking out a tree.
Chuck Wilderson, owner of Wilderson Tree Farm, located on Parallel Road in Basehor, said his farm has approximately 10,000 trees for families to choose from this season. The variety of trees available includes white pine, Scotch pine and Austrian pine.
Wilderson, who along with his family started the farm in 1976, said he prefers the white pine out of the three varieties available.
"I actually like the white pine because it is soft and easy to handle," Wilderson said. "The other two are good trees, but they lose needles a little."
The tree farm entails 18 acres with the trees divided into 14 different sections. Although the tree season recently began, running the farm is a yearlong process, Wilderson said.
"It is a continual process," he said. "We always have new trees coming on to replace the old ones.
"From the time we plant, it takes anywhere from seven to 12 years for them to mature."
The tree farm started as an idea of Wilderson's son, David, and eventually began with the planting of 1,000 trees.
Since then, it has evolved into an operation run by the entire Wilderson family, as well as several local employees.
Wilderson said the tree farm has hired several local students to help run the farm over the past years.
"I grow more than Christmas trees here, I grow kids," he said. "It benefits me because I get dependable help and it benefits them because they grow and mature as they work on the farm."
For one tree farm employee, the time spent on the farm has been an invaluable experience.
"It helps with things like discipline, with having to get myself here on time and to work hard," said Mike Schultz, a senior at Basehor-Linwood High School.
He has worked on the farm for three years.
Although the business has grown since its humble beginnings, Wilderson said he does not intend to shut down the farm anytime soon.
"I am still planting trees I will harvest 10 years from now," Wilderson said.
The trees available at the farm sell by the foot; price depends on the tree. The farm is open during the week from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.