Tucked back in the woods of Trafalgar sits a 13-acre property where two families are living out a shared dream.
The Wildes in Trafalgar is a tree farm, community space, event property and home to the Swails and Cole families.
Jessey and Jordan Swails and Patrick and Cassie Cole met about two years ago at church, and quickly became best friends, along with their young children.
Opportunity struck this summer when both families decided to sell their homes and move on to a 13-acre tree farm property that was for sale in northern Trafalgar. The owners of the previous farm, Emmanuel Tree Farm, were looking to sell, and the two families saw a chance to turn the property into not just into their home, but also a place for the community to gather.
The Swails and the Coles bought the property at 4919 W. 300 S. in late August, and they moved in between September and November. The Swails live in a renovated bus on the land with their children, and the Coles live with their children in a small, renovated apartment in a building on the property.
“I remember we pulled in, and I kind of teared up because I had asked for a tree-lined drive when we were looking for properties,” Jordan Swails said. “… as we were walking back, you know one of the other couples teared up because she was like, ‘This is the place we envisioned, to just get out and explore.’”
The idea for The Wildes started from the couples brainstorming and daydreaming about what they envisioned they could do with the property. They wanted to keep the longtime tree farm going in the winter, but also add more to it.
“From the beginning, we’ve thought, how do we make this more than just shopping to get a Christmas tree or visiting a property?” Jordan Swails said. “We wanted to allow people to enjoy being outside and together and slowing down.”
Their first events, Christmas at The Wildes, feature live music, warm drinks, a fire pit, cookies and just “enjoying being together.” Those who attend can purchase a ticket that includes a live Christmas tree, or they can attend and not buy a tree.
The property is decorated with lights, and also a sleigh for photo-ops. The theme for this year is “Fresh Joy,” and visitors can fill out a prompt when they arrive, answering what brings them “fresh joy,” and hang their answers on a display outside.
Their overall vision is to create a space for people to hang out, connect and enjoy being outside, Jordan Swails said.
“What we wanted is for people to really enjoy being here, to lose track of time and you know, just be connected,” she said.
The first event on Nov. 26, around 20 people came by, and there was a mix of people who bought trees and some who didn’t.
“One family was here for hours, you know, people were throwing the football, hanging around fire, listening to music,” Jordan Swails said. “It really filled our hearts because that’s what we’ve been hoping for.”
The Wildes’ final Christmas event is Saturday, and tickets are available on their website.
But these first two events are not the end of their ventures. The Swails and Coles are constantly dreaming up new ideas to use the property as a community and event space year-round.
They’ve talked about planting flower gardens and hosting Mother’s Day events, dinner parties, drive-in movies, and karaoke nights. They also are open to hosting weddings or creating a gathering space for groups or young artists to hang out.
They also want to get involved with the community, and form partnerships with local organizations and businesses. They formed one partnership this year with the Shepherd Community Center in Indianapolis to donate trees to people in need.
The possibilities for The Wildes are endless, Jordan Swails said. The two couples will spend hours talking about ideas and possibilities for the property.
“We are dreamers … I mean, the options are really endless, but our goal is to have at least something everyone likes,” Jordan Swails said.
They’re starting off small now, but there are plans to continue growing to make many of their ideas a reality.
The Wildes is more than just a place for the community – it’s also home to the two young families. The Swails and Coles see this as a place for their children to grow, learn and explore.
Especially living in such small quarters now, they spend most of their days outside.
“Everyone will say, ‘how are you living in a bus with preschoolers?’ And, honestly, we get them dressed, we open the door and we say come back at lunch,” Jordan Swails said.
Their children spend their days exploring the property, whether that’s playing hide and seek in the trees, riding in wagons, playing on the playground, or walking in the woods collecting hickory nuts and looking at the shapes of leaves. They also are teaching their children about taking care of the trees and about the nature around them.
“What we’re doing here really is for us too,” Jessey Swails said. “We want to give (our children) the lives that we wish we had as kids, growing up in a place like this. And if the community can benefit from it as well, let’s do it.”
IF YOU GO
What: Christmas at The Wildes
Where: The Wildes, 4919 W. 300 South, Trafalgar
When: Saturday, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $125 to attend and get a live tree; $55 to attend with no tree
Details: Visit The Wildes to pick up a live Christmas tree and enjoy being outside with others. The event will have live music, warm drinks, cookies, a fire pit and activities.
Purchase tickets: thewildes.in/