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The holiday hustle

By Amy Hadachek
for The Fence Post

Kasl Christmas Tree Farm is going full steam ahead

The holiday season is in full-throttle mode at the Kasl Christmas Tree Farm in rural Belleville, Kan. With less than a month until Christmas, almost every waking hour now through Dec. 20 will be spent providing homegrown Christmas trees and handmade wreaths for customers.

At 25 years old, Tyler Kasl is at the helm working alongside his parents Scott and Laurie Kasl in the wreath warehouse.



This year, to help keep the long-time family business operating efficiently, Laurie ramped up her hours.

“I’m doing even more,” Laurie said. “I’m getting to do all the ones that Tyler passes to me.”



The Kasl’s produce Scotch and Austrian pine trees, as well as Fraser firs that grow near the entrance of the farm.

“A lot of people like choosing their own trees out in the field here and we will cut them,” Tyler said. “Sometimes they like to hand-saw them — they want the full experience.”

The short trees in front are Scotch Pine and the tall ones are Austrian Pine at Kasl Christmas Tree Farm in rural Belleville, Kan. Photo by Amy Hadachek

They have 400 trees in the six- to 10-foot tall range, and 50 trees that are 10-footers.

“For people who want taller trees, we have 12- or 13-foot trees,” said Tyler, who also works for the city of Belleville. Both jobs keep him busy during the holiday season.

TAKING OVER

In November 2018, 23-year-old Tyler started overseeing the tree farm after his grandfather Mike Kasl passed away. The good-natured Kasl Christmas Tree Farm owner suddenly passed away at 75 years old, in the middle of the peak holiday season.

Tyler learned the ropes from his grandfather starting when he was 5 years old.

Tyler’s grandma Carolyn Kasl, Mike’s widow, enjoys decorating finished handmade wreaths with her red velvet bows.

“Oh yes; that’s what I do,” she said. “I make most of the bows. I get help from Laurie, my daughter-in-law.”

One of 'Santa's elves' (helper) Annette Eaton of Belleville, Kan., helps cut fresh branches thatthe Kasls make into 250 wreaths this holiday season.

Along with the red velvet bows she makes, she also takes special requests from customers.

“I’m also making bows out of burlap ribbon, and some dark blue for the Jayhawks (University of Kansas fans) and purple (Kansas State University fans),” Carolyn said. “We’re putting white bows on crosses and a lot go out to cemeteries and people’s homes instead of a wreath.” Also popular are swags, and huggies that are accented with bows and pine cones to decorate mailboxes.

Nov. 24 was a special day as Scott and Laurie Kasl delivered a handmade oversized wreath adorned with a red bow to Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly in Topeka. It’s an annual honor for the Kasl family.

Another tree growing member of the Kansas Christmas Tree Growers donated a tree for the governor’s mansion.

“I always try to give somebody else the wreath opportunity, but nobody else volunteers,” Tyler said

They also donate 10 Christmas trees to the Trees for Troops program.

“We donate them to active military families,” Tyler said. “The trees go to Wichita, (Kansas), FedEx picks them up and they’re dispersed to military bases. Other farms in the state donate too.”

The Kasls also provide trees and wreathes for school fundraising efforts.

TREE SALES

Tyler Kasl, middle, designing wreaths with his parents, Scott and Laurie Kasl, at the Kasl Christmas Tree Farm in rural Belleville, Kan. Photo by Amy Hadachek

This year, Tyler expects to sell about 250 trees, the same number as last year. They’re designing 1,500 wreaths, which is a down from last year’s 1,600.

To keep the cycle of trees growing, Tyler’s grandfather taught him to plant more trees every year. “We only ended up planting 700 seedlings earlier this year in April and I want to plant more this year,” Tyler said.

This year because of a hot, dry late summer, only half of the trees survived. “We always say if you get 50 percent survival rate, you’re doing good,” he said. “You obviously want more. We’ve seen 80 percent before, but 50 percent is usually where the ‘ball falls.’”

These wreaths were adorned with Carolyn's handcrafted bows. Photo by Amy Hadachek

Mike Kasl started the Christmas tree farm in 1980, when he started planting Scotch and Austrian pine trees and sold his first trees in 1986.

Tyler hopes to keep the tradition growing.

The Kasl Christmas Tree Farm is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, go to KaslChristmastreefarm on Facebook or call (785) 527-2036.


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