“The Ga. 140 farm has one way in and one way out, and we lease that land anyway. It’s getting difficult to get in an out with trailers,” Bielstein said. “We bring everything back to Plainville anyway to load out.”
The Shannon farm just off Old Calhoun Road also is a challenging site to get tree trailers in, particularly for larger mature trees.
The family, according to Bielstein, is in the process of attempting to expand the operations at Plainville where they have another 30 acres that they are preparing to plant. The company planted approximately 6,000 trees last fall.
In addition to his father, Bielstein said his stepmother Lynn is also actively involved in the business along with his two stepbrothers, Dalton and Jake Gilbreath. Lynn’s father, David Willingham, is involved in the shop and equipment maintenance portion of the tree farm business.
“We’re also hoping to be able to acquire some additional property as it becomes available,” Bielstein said.
Nature’s Inc. plants a wide variety of trees, but Bielstein said the most popular tend to be nuttall oak, October Glory red maples and the Nellie R. Stevens holly trees.
“They work really well for privacy screens,” Bielstein said of the Nellie R. Stevens species. “I think they are also among the toughest of them all.” A lot of the popular Leyland cypress and cryptomeria died out during the drought several years ago.
Aside from the difficulty in getting to the trees on the Ga. 140 site, Bielstein said a lot of the trees at that location are close to the point where they have outgrown the ability to dig them out and successfully transplant them.
“I think the plan is going to be to dig everything we can dig,” Bielstein said. “We’ll try to sell off all that we can sell.” A lot of the Nellie R. Stevens holly trees in the 12- to 14- foot-tall range are located on that farm.
The farms on Ga. 140 and old Calhoun Road have approximately 2,000 trees ranging from several different varieties of oak to crepe myrtles, a few elms and Chinese pistache trees.
“The color they (Chinese pistache) have is probably the prettiest of any of them,” Bielstein said.
He added that a lot of trees outgrew the company’s ability to sell them during the recession. When the Lowe’s RegionalDistributionCenter opened on the opposite side of Ga. 140 from their tree farm, Lowe’s bought a “huge” number of trees to landscape the property around the mammoth distribution center.
“It was a turning point for us. We were really blessed to get the Lowe’s job,” Bielstein said. The deal touched off a significant increase in the company’s landscaping division, which is where his father, David Bielstein, now spends most of his time.
“That’s why I took over the tree farm,” Bielstein said.
When it comes to planting, Bielstein said the most challenging aspect of the business is trying to determine what’s going to be popular years into the future. Tree farming is not your typical agribusiness.
“We have to plan at least seven years down the road,” Bielstein said. “We try to target what’s going to be needed at the appropriate time.”
He pointed to the river birch species, which was pretty popular 10-15 years ago, but said that interest in the species has waned somewhat because the roots tend to grow outward from the tree and run along the top of the ground making it difficult to mow around the base of the trees.