Susie and Allen Grant
- How did you, Susie and Allen, meet?
We met in 1986 at the National Christmas Tree Convention in Minneapolis, MN. Allen was there as a vendor from Georgia selling The Yule Forest Christmas Tree Trimmer that he and his father worked on together, and I [Susie] came from Louisiana to learn how to improve my Christmas tree and holiday decorating business. I came across [Allen’s] booth and started a conversation with him about a broken trimmer I had purchased from a different vendor and needed help with. By the end of the convention, Allen convinced me to skip the final ceremony and go on a date with him. We decided to keep in touch after that and to this day Allen still owes me $24. Allen could never repair the broken trimmer, so he brought the Yule Forest Trimmer over to my farm and helped me trim my trees often. We enjoyed that time together. After dating long distance for a year, we decided to get married, start a business in Georgia and raise a family together.
- Why were you both at the Christmas tree convention and what was your family history behind trees?
Neither one of us planned on becoming a full time farmer. For a while, I was a teacher in New Orleans and Mississippi. I started farming Christmas trees with my father on the weekend because I always loved being outside. Allen was in the automobile business and decided to create a partnership with his father selling Christmas trees and building equipment during the weekends. Ironically, both of us quit our jobs at the time and became full time farmers in the year of 1983. To our surprise we would meet 3 years later at a Christmas Tree Convention.
- Are each of you from Henry County?
Allen is originally from Bryan, Texas and I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. I joined Allen in Henry County in 1988 after we got married because Allen’s dad, Spencer Grant, already had property in the area and the town was so welcoming and kind.
- Were you always interested in Christmas trees and farm business? If not, what did each of you do before opening a farm?
I was a teacher in New Orleans and Mississippi. That’s why I encourage educating children when they come out to the farm. I started farming Christmas trees with my father on the weekend because I always loved being outside. Allen was in the automobile business and decided to create a partnership with his father selling Christmas trees and building equipment during the weekends because he also loved being outside.
I came across [Allen’s] booth and started a conversation with him about a broken trimmer I had purchased from a different vendor and needed help with. By the end of the convention, Allen convinced me to skip the final ceremony and go on a date with him. We decided to keep in touch after that and to this day Allen still owes me $24.
- When did you first open Yule Forest and what type of experiences did the farm offer?
Farm life started for Allen and I right after we got married. We started off only selling Christmas Trees. The farm included: cutting down your own tree, a store, hot apple cider, and hayrides along with educational school tours to children. When the first baby was on the way, we discovered we needed more income; therefore, we expanded the farm into a Pumpkin Patch a year later. Every year after that, the farm grew exponentially along with our 3 children. Now we run a successful Christmas Tree Farm, Pumpkin Patch, Haunted House, and nursery/landscape tree business.
- When is the farm open and what type of experiences are available each season?
Fear the Woods Haunted House is open on weekends in October and The Pumpkin Patch is open every day in October. The Yule Forest Christmas Tree farm opens on Thanksgiving Day and is typically open until mid-December.Fear the Woods is a professional haunt that has consistently been ranked one of the top haunted places to go in Georgia for the last 5 years. This haunt consist of three different features: The Haunted House, a place where all your psychological fears are revealed; the Haunted Trail, where you have to find your way back after being dropped off in the middle of the woods and corn fields with the Skinner family; and Pandemic, our new 80,000 square foot interactive, competitive, combat field where your skills determine your fate. We know the best way to scare people is by having actual actors out there and minimal use of animatronics.
The Pumpkin Patch has specialized in teaching groups about farm life for over 35 years. Families come out and enjoy our hayride, petting zoo, science center, featuring our farm to table exhibit, various inflatables like our jumping pad, bee house with live honey bees, puppet show, and pumpkin movie. In 2017 we added our dinosaur exhibit and hay maze! You can also pick your very own pumpkin off the vine or sunflower from the stem from our patches. Children learn best through hands on experiences, so our main goal at the patch is for children to engage in learning out here and have a blast doing it!Yule Forest Christmas Tree Farm opens up on Thanksgiving Day! On the farm families can start a tradition by choosing and cutting their very own Christmas tree from our field. During the weekdays we have school tours and on the weekends we do hayrides for the families. Also, snow flocked trees, wreaths, garland, and Christmas gifts are available at our Ole’ Country Store. Christmas is also a huge time for giving so we give people the opportunity to drop toys off at our toy drop for Toys for Tots and give donations to Trees for Troops. We’ve been partners with Trees for Troops since 2005.
- How has the farm grown and changed over the years?
The farm grows and changes as our community grows and changes. We started as a tree farm and then expanded to a pumpkin patch and haunted house. During the in between years we use to host birthday parties, pick blueberries or blackberries, and had different kinds of inflatables. We got involved with the STEM program at Pleasant Grove Elementary because we loved how the program got students involved with their hands using science, technology, engineering, and math.
- What role does family play on the farm?
Everything! We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the support of our family. We have enjoyed watching our kids learn new skills and grow up on the farm and now we enjoy watching our grandchildren doing the same thing. It’s truly a beautiful sight.
- What is special or sets Yule Forest apart from other agritourism farms?
Education and giving families a place to create memories/traditions together.
On the farm families can start a tradition by choosing and cutting their very own Christmas tree from our field.
- What are some of your favorite things about being able to run the farm?
We enjoy how our farm brings families together. Whether we are bringing them together through laughter or screams, Yule Forest always finds a way to make sure everyone works together and has a blast. Mainly watching the families laugh and enjoy their time together.