The Magic of Mrs. Claus: Arkansas Christmas tree farmers delight in cultivating holiday wonder

Pine Grove Farms is a holly-jolly agri-tourism spot in Arkansas that is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit!

With roots in Subiaco and Morrison’s Bluff—Betty and Greg Eckarts found their way to the middle ground that would become the canvas for their Christmas tree legacy in Arkansas. Starting as a venture in Paris in 1978, they stumbled upon a magazine article in 1988 that took their operation to extraordinary heights.

“I saw an article in a magazine — I think it was a Progressive Farmer,” Greg reminisces. The article highlighted farmers in South Carolina who were experimenting with Virginia Pine as Christmas trees, which was a novel concept at the time. Inspired, Greg promptly made inquiries, ordered seedlings, and began his journey into the Christmas tree business.

Today, their farm boasts a diverse selection — from those very Virginia pines to other varieties like Leland cypress, Murray cypress, Carolina sapphire, and blue ice. Importing cut Fraser firs from North Carolina also adds a touch of variety, catering to different preferences.

However, Pine Grove Christmas Tree Farm is more than just a marketplace for festive evergreens. The Eckarts have transformed their land into a haven for families seeking a memorable Christmas experience. Visitors can feed animals, embark on hayrides, witness pigs racing, and enjoy a delightful barrel train ride. It is a place where families create lasting memories amid the picturesque backdrop.

“We do love having boys and girls come out to the farm,” said Betty, fondly known to locals as “Mrs. Claus.” As a retired teacher, she seamlessly transitioned into the role of, delighting in the innocence and joy of every child who questions if she is the “real Mrs. Claus.”

And then, there are the field trips— an immersive experience that includes relays, hayrides, hot chocolate and cookies, and story time, all under the watchful and festive eye of Mrs. Claus. It’s an opportunity for children to step into a winter wonderland and create cherished memories that will linger long after the season fades.

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