Yakey Tree Farm Celebrates Three Decades of Holiday Tradition
Yakey Tree Farm has provided Fishers families with holiday magic and a side of nostalgia for more than 30 years. Owners Milt and Jane Yakey have lived in Fishers since 1978, and started planting seedlings on their property back in 1985.
Milt handles the planting, and Jane handles the bookkeeping.
“We had the acreage, and we wanted to do something with it,” Milt says. “I like to keep busy outdoors, and I’ve always liked trees. We never knew if we’d even sell an evergreen but we got started planting.”
The business of planting and selling trees is necessarily a waiting game.
“People don’t realize you have to wait for the trees to grow to a good size for a Christmas tree,” Jane says. “If you want a taller tree you have to wait longer.”
The waiting game eventually paid off for the couple.
“After seven seasons of growth we finally sold our first tree in November 1991,” Milt says. “It was going great guns. People were flocking to the place.”
The Yakeys live on 12 acres off of 106th Street. Four of those acres are used for planting evergreen trees.
“Now we’re selling 200 to 500 a year depending on the year and the weather,” Milt says. “Drought plays a big role in how many trees we have to sell.”
The family-owned business begins its selling season on Black Friday every year.
“We’re open from noon to 5:30 p.m. on Black Friday, Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and then each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.,” Milt says.
The couple takes Sundays off.
“Sunday is a day of rest the Lord gave us, and I need it,” Milt says.
At 75 years old, Milt still does much of the planting himself.
“I have to pick and choose how much I work,” Milt says. “I might stop in the afternoon on a heavy workday. I might take a half-hour nap, drink a cup of tea and go back at it until dark. I don’t have quite as much energy as I did 25 or 30 years ago.”
Milt doesn’t use pesticides or herbicides on the farm. It’s a detail that is very important to him.
“I don’t think pesticides or herbicides are good for the earth,” Milt says. “It kills weeds, but it also kills other things. I like to keep the balance of nature going as much as I can.”
During selling days, guests are often greeted by the Yakeys’ dogs.
“We have hound dogs,” Jane says. “I remember one year we had a bunch of people in the front yard. One of our dogs ran up with a squirrel, as dogs will do. There was a little boy who was about 3 years old. He saw the squirrel and started crying. His mom got down to his level and said, ‘That’s not a real squirrel. That’s just a stuffed animal.’ I think he thought she was giving him the business, which of course she was.”
The Yakeys hire additional staff members each year to assist clients in finding the perfect holiday tree.
“We’ll have a fire going usually,” Milt says. “Families can show up and choose a tree. One of our associates will cut it down for them, and then put it on the top of the car or throw it in the back of the truck for the customer.”
Guests won’t find Yakey Tree Farm online. Their business was built purely on word of mouth. The Yakeys keep an old-school approach, only accepting cash or checks.
“Occasionally I’ll have a check bounce, maybe once a year,” Milt says. “Almost always when we call them it’s corrected. It just shows you there a lot of honest, good people carrying on here in Fishers. You don’t always read about that in the news.”
The couple also belongs to the Indiana Christmas Tree Growers Association (CTGA).
“The association puts out a pamphlet every year detailing each farm,” Jane says. “The pamphlet describes what kind of trees each farm has, how tall they are, where the farm is located and so on.”
Milt served on the board for the CTGA for about 15 years.
“We are a small farm so when we run out of trees we’re out,” Milt says. “There are a lot of other growers out there. We can direct people to other farms. We try to help each other out, not compete with each other. We’re all good friends.”
The farm sees return customers year after year.
“We have customers who have been coming to us for 20 years,” Jane says. “There is one man that always comes up and gives me a big hug each year.”
Milt says Fishers has changed throughout the years since he started growing and selling trees.
“We can’t keep up with the growth of the city, but we do get a lot of really nice people coming out,” he says.
The Yakeys plan to continue the family business despite slowing down slightly.
“I’m still planning to plant each year as long as I’m able,” Milt says. “I just keep going.”
Yakey Tree Farm is located at 9189 East 106th Street in Fishers. For more information, call 317-842-2514.