All Spruced Up
Farm & Ranch Living|December / January 2017

The whole family—whether they’ve got two legs or four—is invited to this Christmas tree farm.

Laurel Dale

Marty and I were still working full time when we started selling Christmas trees in 1986. We parked our old Volkswagen camper van at the front of our driveway with a few precut pines propped up against the van, and we waited for customers. Within two years we had launched Dale Tree Farm, a cut-your-own Christmas tree lot. We now sell about 1,000 trees each holiday season.

After doing this for 30 years, we’re inching toward retirement, but both Marty and I can look back on decades of learning, happiness and dreams come true.

Marty was a Ph.D. forester working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service when we met in 1981. He owned 38 acres on which he had started planting Scotch and white pine trees as an after-work project.

His original plan was to sell the trees wholesale.

By 1988 we had people coming to the farm to cut their own trees. During the week, we operated on the honor system while we were at work. We left saws and directions for customers and parked that same VW near the tree field with a window cracked to slide money through. Sure enough, there were dollars on the seat of the van at the end of the day when we came home. Generations of families still come back every year because of the trust we established with our customers when we first started.

Growing Pains

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