Five Minutes with Jan Balekian
Dec 06, 2017 04:01PM
● By Maleesa Johnson
Anyone who has experienced the magic of the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch knows that the owner, Jan Balekian, doesn’t do things halfway. In December, the same field that served as a temporary home for hundreds of pumpkins transforms into a forest of firs. Cartoon cutouts and bounce houses appear, as do the delighted smiles of children enraptured by the sheer volume of festive diversions. Hot chocolate is on hand, because even though highs could be in the 80s, it’s still Christmas time. Balekian shares how she started and continues to run Flower Mound Christmas Trees in her front yard.
I MOVED TO FLOWER MOUND… in 1975. There were 1,260 people when I moved here. We had one grocery store where Big Lots is now. That used to be Tom Thumb. I've seen some major changes. I know progress is upon us and there's nothing you can do about it. Everyone wants to live in Flower Mound because it's such a neat little area. But I do remember the old days when you could ride the horses through the trees and all the trails. It's kind of sad in the way that you lose a lot of that heritage.
I STARTED FLOWER MOUND CHRISTMAS TREES BECAUSE… I wanted to start something a little more festive and family-oriented than just picking up a tree from a lot. I just decided one year to do it and brought in a few trees. It just grew and grew like the pumpkin patch. On the weekends when most of the families come in, we have our staff out in the field helping them. They are educated really well on every type of tree that we have. Where it comes from, how to take care of it, the qualities that may affect allergies and so on. Our staff is very knowledgeable and has worked here about eight to 10 years.
WHEN IT COMES TO PICKING OUT THE PERFECT TREE… There is no such thing. It's just a matter of picking something that you like. When you buy Fraser [Firs] out of North Carolina, most of them are grown up on a hill. You'll get more branches on the side that the sun hits. If you have a corner of the house that you want to put it in, you just have to place the fuller side of the tree facing out. There is nothing perfect. We just find the tree that people love altogether as a family.
THE MOST SURPRISING DISCOVERY IN STARTING THE FARM WAS… The price of getting them here. Our trees that are Nordmann [Firs] and Noble [Firs] – what I call the more expensive type of tree – they come from out on the West Coast, up in Oregon and Washington. A lot of those places have to cut their trees early because of the snow. If they wait too long in the season, they have to use helicopters to get trees out. And that gets expensive. The expense of getting them here and taking care of them has really been eye-opening. We have very few that go bad on us because we immediately put them in water.
AFTER CHRISTMAS IS OVER… We don't have a whole lot leftover. What we do have in the way of small trees, we will take them and donate them to Christian Community Action. The smalls ones are easier for people to handle. Even just a five-foot tree makes the difference in a home. Nothing goes to waste.
WHEN OUR CUSTOMERS COME IN, WE… try to figure out what they are looking for. What type of tree and what budget. We will have a tree that will fit every price-point. Some of them may not be as full as others, but we also buy what they call second-choice trees that may fit that need for someone that may not have the space or the money.
When families come in here and pick a tree, we give them the option of taking the tree as it is. We'll give it a fresh cut, wrap it in plastic and tie it to the top of the cars for them. Of course, my guys use cardboard to lay the tree down. So once you pick a tree, you don't have to do anything until you get home and unload it. If you don't have a stand, we build a stand. So many of the people that buy from us say that this is the way to go.
I’M DRIVEN BY… My love for kids. I love doing it. I dread the day I have to quit. As long as I can continue to do this, I will. I have nine grandkids. They are always coming out here. My two oldest granddaughters will come out and work the tent for the pumpkin patch or come out and serve hot chocolate for the Christmas Tree Farm. Just working with people and different personalities is a good learning experience.