Windswept Tree Farm offers 'cut-your-own-tree' family fun
When Steve Kleppin came home from college one time during the 1990s, he and his father, Paul, started a family tradition: they went to a local tree farm and cut their own Christmas tree.
"We took a hayride to the back field on the small tree farm and cut our own tree," Mr. Kleppin recalled. "I was struck by how much fun my dad and I and the other families were having that day. We used to go to a retail lot and pick out a pre-cut tree until then."
Ten years later, Mr. Kleppin started his own tree farm on Evergreen Lane in New Milford. Located on the Sherman/New Milford border along Route 37, the farm is a part-time business for Mr. Kleppin, who is the planning and zoning director for the town of New Canaan.
Called the Windswept Tree Farm, the business is now in its third year of selling cut-your-own Christmas trees. Mr. Kleppin and his dad are having as much fun providing trees for his customers as they had that day years ago when they cut their own first tree.
In fact, tree sales have become a family affair. Mr. Kleppin's wife, Alicia, helps out and his mom, Louise, watches the kids weekends when sales are hopping.
"Bad luck struck early when we had two drought years in a row," Mr. Kleppin recalled. "Then two winters, the deer sustained themselves at the expense of my Fraser trees. What they don't tell you is the first crop takes seven to eight years and then it's the second crop that's best after you learn what grows best on your land."
Finally, Mr. Kleppin persevered and opened for business in 2007.
Priced at $40, including state sales tax, the farm offers a selection of three species of trees: Colorado Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir and Bracted Balsam Fir.
"I'm growing some Concolor (white) Fir, but they're slow to grow. I'll never has as many of them to offer as I'd like," he said.
Mr. Kleppin said the Colorado Blue Spruce are his best sellers.
"They have strong branches which is good if you have heavy ornaments," Mr. Kleppin said, "but they don't hold water like a fir. It's a trade off."
Mr. Kleppin noted this year, with all the rain, the spruce are a good choice if customers are diligent and water the trees twice a day -- in the morning and again at night -- once they are in the tree stand.
"I can't stress enough to get your tree in water as soon as you get home," Mr. Kleppin said.
Most species can go 6 to 8 hours after cutting the trunk and still take up water.
"Don't bruise the cut surface or get it dirty," he said.
As for decorating the tree, you can't beat candy canes, Mr. Kleppin said.
He notes, according to legend, there was a candy maker who wanted to make a candy as testimony to Jesus Christ. First, he used a hard candy because Jesus is considered by Christians the "rock of ages."
Then the candy maker created the candy cane, which could hang from the Christmas tree's branches, Mr. Kleppin said.
"My theory is that women put candy canes on the trees to entice their husbands to stop watching football and help out with the decorating," he said with a laugh.
Windswept Tree Farm is located at 12 Evergreen Lane along the New Milford/Sherman town line on the eastern side of Route 37. The farm is open for sales Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For information, call the farm at 860-355-9907.