Realizing A Dream
Even before he was a student at Cornell College of Agriculture, Peter Brooks knew he wanted to grow Christmas Trees. But with no family farm to inherit, it took decades to realize the dream. Along the way he worked as a Teaching Naturalist, a Forest Resources Planner, a Landscape Designer and a Financial Advisor.
Finally, in 2010, he found and purchased a small farm just outside Saratoga Springs, which had the ideal combination of soils, location, and landscape to make a wonderful home and Christmas Tree farm. He and his family planted the first trees right away and kept planting more each year, to assure a supply of full-size trees every year. In the meantime, there was lots to do – digging ponds, rebuilding stone walls, replacing culverts and roadways, rebuilding the main barn and the house, reclearing fields and removing invasive plant species from the woods.
His three grown children, Morgan, Maggy and Dave, and their families all live close by; adding twelve more people to the family team. “The kids” all have their own jobs off the Farm but are always on hand to pitch in. During your annual visit, you’ll probably see several family members, helping guests in the field, the Christmas Barn or the Welcome Area.
We invite you to our family farm to celebrate your family tradition!
Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall…
Sometimes our visitors ask, “What do you do for the rest of the year?” The answer is – “A lot!” It takes eight to ten years to grow a Christmas Tree, and there are many tasks to be done between planting and harvest.
Each spring, we take down the winter fence that keeps out hungry deer. Then we get busy planting, watering, and fertilizing trees in a new section of the field, and replacing trees lost over the winter.
All summer we’re mowing grass and controlling weeds. In mid-summer we prune the trees to maintain straight ‘leaders’; and then in late summer, we prune each tree individually again, to bring it as close as possible to an ideal form.
Then each fall we mow our pollinator habitat meadows and set up the deer fence again for the winter.
When winter comes, we walk the deer fence to check for problems, but most of our work is indoors, preparing for the coming year. We order trees, tools, and supplies, repair equipment, and catch up with bookkeeping and paperwork.
As in any occupation, there is always more to learn. New research is published regularly, and there are professional conferences to attend. Improving our techniques is a constant process. Always eager to be learning and improving, Peter has served for several years on the Board of Directors of the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York and is now President-Elect.