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5 questions with Susan Grelinger

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, at 6:43 a.m.

Susan Grelinger never has to decide between a real tree or an artificial one.

She and her husband, Bob, have owned Windy Knoll Tree Farm since 1979 and produced their first harvest of Christmas trees in 1986.

For years they ran it as a side business – she was a teacher at Robinson Middle School and he was a scheduler at what was then Raytheon Aircraft. A decade ago, both retired from their jobs and now run the farm northeast of Derby. They have six acres planted in trees and have sold about 500 so far this year, up about 8 percent from last year. This year, they produced the tree for the Governor’s mansion, a 10-foot tall scotch pine.

Q. How did you get into the business?

A. When we purchased this place, it wasn’t big enough to farm. We didn’t have enough money to buy a lot of acres. A friend who was a tree farmer convinced us to plant a few trees.

Q. What’s so fun about watching trees grow?

A. We liked to watch our children grow, so we like to watch our trees grow, except they don’t talk back.

Q. Is raising Christmas trees easy?

A. Oh, no. You don’t just put them in the ground and wait six or eight years. They are high maintenance.

Q. How do you cope with the drought?

A. Bob has had to floods the fields when it’s so dry. We have our own water system and three wells. Two wells are used to water the trees.

Q. Do you offer clearance prices as you get closer to Christmas?

A. No. The trees that aren’t sold just continue to grow for the next year.

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