By Betsy Larson
“When you create that tradition, you won’t want to go back to a pre cut place,” states Ian Merrill, worker, new owner, and grandson of the former owner, of Walker’s Tree Farm in Madbury, NH.
Walker’s Tree Farm started up in 1985, originally owned by Melissa and Ian (Sr.) Walker. It was then about seven years until it opened for
business. The trees are planted at around two years old but need that extra seven years to get to a desirable size. At the farm there are endless rows of Christmas trees, all shapes and sizes. In the front there’s a small building many call “the little house” where you can buy ornaments, get hot cider or just warm up. And there are plenty of friendly employees eager to help customers out.
The Walkers started the farm as a way to use their land. “We had all this land and realtors were hounding us to buy the land so we started thinking about what we were going to do,” says Melissa Walker. “Ian [Sr.] thought that Christmas trees were a good use for the land because we didn’t want to see it developed.”
In honor of his beloved grandfather, Ian Walker (Sr.), who passed away last year, Merrill has stepped forward to take over the business. “It has recently changed with the passing of Ian Walker, who was the main caretaker for the farm, so now his grandson, Ian (Jr.), is running the farm,” says Arun Falk, who worked at the Walkers for seven years, “and from what I have seen he is doing an amazing job.”
Besides the business switching hands, the changes will be very minimal, the farm will continue to be a place of tradition and memories for many families. “There won’t be any serious changes. We may try to plant more trees or do something positive but everything will be good,” says Merrill.
Going to a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm can be very beneficial. “It’s exciting to have young families coming where the parents came as a child,” says Melissa. But family bonding isn’t the only great thing about cutting your own tree. “If you keep it watered, it’ll still be good in April, and the needles will still be firm,” explained Melissa.
With the farm being open for 23 years, the Walkers began to see generations of families. “There’s a gal working in the little house now who came before she was born and her father came when he was in college,” says Melissa, “that kind of continuance is special.”
That gal is Lauren Pike. “I’ve been going to Walker’s tree farm my whole life. My parents started going with their friends before I was born and it’s been a tradition ever since,” says Pike. “It’s always been a family outing. I can’t imagine our holiday without it.”