Contributing writer: Karen Emmerich, Town of Warwick Tree Commissioner and NYSUFC Board Member

Running a Christmas tree farm is probably one of the happiest jobs you could ever have. Don’t get me wrong, the work can be hard, frustrating and demanding, but the rewards include working outside and introducing people to the charms of a real Christmas tree.

My husband Kurt and I own Emmerich Tree Farm, a “choose & cut” Christmas tree farm in Warwick, NY. Kurt is an ESF graduate who had always wanted to have his own Christmas tree farm. So we purchased a thirty-acre parcel in 2005 with ten acres of hilly, well-drained soil, which is perfect for evergreen trees. Our property consists of about sixty percent hardwoods (primarily oak, maple, beech) and thirty percent evergreens, with about five percent devoted to two houses, barns and a pavilion. Five percent of the property is ponds.

Emmerich Family:Photo Kate Thompson

We grow Fraser fir, Korean fir, Concolor fir, Canaan fir, White Pine, White Spruce, Blue Spruce, Meyer’s Spruce, Norway Spruce and a growing number of Fir Crosses. We’ve tried different species over the fourteen years we’ve been growing and this is where we’re at right now.  My favorite tree is the Concolor, or White Fir. I love the tangerine fragrance of its needles.

We plant 3-4,000 trees each spring. In late February Kurt digs the stumps of the trees that were cut during the prior season and transplants 3-4-foot-tall trees taken from our transplant beds into these spaces. Then in March and April we plant the transplants that we’ve purchased from various nurseries into the transplant beds. Once they’re planted, it’s on to watering, weed and pest control, mowing, picking cones and doing corrective work on the treetops. Shearing starts in August and inventory is taken in September. Most of the trees we sell are probably eight to ten years old.

On Black Friday we open up to the public and start selling trees. It’s a busy time…a chance to see old friends and let the sights and the smells of real Christmas trees speak for themselves. The overwhelming feeling is one of happiness, with everyone getting into the Christmas spirit.

View of Emmerich Tree Farm:Photo Karen Emmerich
Wedding at Emmerich Tree Farm

Starting in January, we order the next season’s retail items: ornaments, candles, bells and other gift shop items, as well as  pre-cut Fraser fir trees to supplement our supply. We also plan for any capital improvements and equipment purchases. We take stock of what adjustments need to be made to continue supplying high-quality trees to our customers.

I never feel bad for the trees that don’t’ get picked, the ones that stand at the end of the season. They have a chance next year and will probably be even more beautiful than they are right now. The trees that leave us are going to a family that has adopted them and will love them throughout the Christmas season. We can’t ask for more than that.

I’ve had some surprises. I’ve had a number of people ask me if a six-foot tree grew from a seedling in one season. I’m always a little taken aback when I get that question!

In addition to growing and selling trees, as an agritourism business we also host weddings most Saturdays between May and October. We offer photography sessions in the fall as well, and wreath-making classes in November and December. All these are activities that keep us busy year-round and introduce people to the world of real Christmas trees . Both businesses (weddings and trees) are happy businesses, so it’s a very positive experience.

For more information on our operation, visit