«Previous    Next»
Renting A Tree Can Be Tree-Mendus
First there was rent-a-home; then rent-a-car became popular. Now Herbert Teichman, of Tree-Mendus Fruit, Eau Claire, Mich., has the perfect answer for those who want to have their own apple tree but don't want the responsibility of caring for it.
For about $25 to $50, depending upon the size of the tree, a family can rent a tree for a year. They can visit the tree whenever they want, and when it's harvesttime they can come out and spend the entire day in the country, picking apples from their tree, picnicking, or enjoying the miles of nature trails on Tree-Mendus Fruit's 800-acre farm.
Herb thinks his rent-a-tree service is the first of its type in the U.S. and maybe in the world. Since rent-a-tree began in 1971, several hundred families have traveled from western Michigan and northern Illinois and Indiana to Tree-Mendus Fruit's nearly frost-free location in southwest Michigan for the privilege of picking apples from "their" tree.
"Instead of trying and possibly failing to transplant the country into their backyard, a family can 'own' a plot of land in the country where they can spend the day," Herb explains. "And when we get people in the country, this is the best public relations we can get.
Herb says families usually rent Red or Golden Delicious or Jonathan. Other favorites include Red Rome, McIntosh, and Holiday. For families willing to take long-term leases, Tree-Mendus Fruit will graft special varieties onto the tree. Some family trees now carry such classic additions as Maiden Blush, Northern Spy, Hubardston, Northwest Greening, Grimes Golden, Stark, or Transparent apples.
Herb says he gets calls from California to Maine about rent-a-tree. "Serveral years ago two doctors in California called me about this after they had bought some orchard land," he recalls. "I gave them all the help I could, but I figured they were in this just for a quick profit. Sure enough, it wasn't long afterward that I heard they had gotten out of the business."
Herb doesn't run Tree-Mendus Fruit that way. He lets potential renters know from the beginning they are taking the same chances by renting a tree that he is with the rest of the orchard. He's also very concerned about keeping Tree-Mendus Fruit a place for the family to enjoy. He's quite adamant about that.
"We don't rent trees to individuals," Herb says. "We rent trees to families. That's why we call them 'family trees.' We want the family to come out and pick the tree together."
Potential tree renters are told of the various apple varieties, and they are invited to visit the tree rental section of the orchard and pick out the variety and tree they prefer. Then the tree is tagged and numbered, and the fruit it grows is theirs. Herb always has a tree reserved for the governor and state director of agriculture, in order to keep Michigan fruit on the minds of both men.
Herb even has tips on harvesting the "family trees."
"The ideal way to harvest is to come early in the season and pick the riper apples on the outside of the tree," he recommends. "Then come back each week or two and gradually harvest the crop."
By renting trees and offering recreational facilities for the family to get away for the day, Herb is not only creating goodwill with customers, but also he's keeping them from competing for surrounding land.
"People come through here, see how good the fruit looks, and say, 'Hey, where can I find a few acres like this?' But once people get property they don't know what to do with it, and they bid my land up," he complains. "My rent-a-tree program solves people's desire to 'own' some land in the country."
Judging by the Tree-Mendus Fruit operation, there are two basic prerequisites for setting up your own successful rent-a-tree program. First, be sure you have a good orchard site; Tree-Mendus Fruit's is nearly free of frost. Secondly, and importantly, you have to be a good promoter and like to deal with people. Like Herb Teichman.

  Click here to download page story appeared in.

  Click here to read entire issue

To read the rest of this story, download this issue below or click here to register with your account number.
Order the Issue Containing This Story
1978 - Volume #2, Issue #2