Oh, Christmas Tree Farm
By: Logan Johnson Photos by: Pamela Wells
The Bishop Tree Farm sits on the shore of Boyden Lake, a popular fishing lake in Washington County, where owners Herbert and Katherine Bishop manage a Christmas tree farm and their business, Boyden Lake Seasonal Creative Products. They make wreaths, cemetery boxes, candle holders, and other creative products. Herbert harvests the wood used for these products from their land and Katherine designs the products.
The Bishops, married for 56 years, have lived on the land for most of that time. Herbert was born on the property, where his father operated a dairy farm with 25 milking cows. Around 1960 his father sold the cows, went to work at “the store,” and planted Norway spruce to find value in the land that was occupied by his herd. In 1965 Herbert and Katherine bought the property from his father. In the late 1980’s, wind had begun to blow down their valuable crop trees. It was then that they decided to plant balsam fir Christmas trees.
Since they planted the Christmas trees, the Bishop’s have been growing and selling trees to families of Washington County and beyond. According to Herbert, they sell nearly 350 Christmas trees a year averaging six feet in height. They also sell roughly 50 large trees which are around seventeen feet tall. Every year Herbert shapes every single Christmas tree on the property by hand. Not only is Herbert responsible for the Christmas trees, he also harvests 5 to 6 cords of pulp wood annually by himself, using a chainsaw to fell the trees and a 1977 cable skidder to get the timber out of the woods. “I do the trees to pay the taxes” said Herbert.
On February 8th, 2016, Herbert and Katherine lost their home to a fire, the home Herbert was born in. This didn’t force them out though, and they rebuilt next to where the old house stood. The only remnants of the old house, the chimney, remains on the front lawn in front of their new house.
When asked why they are Tree Farmers, Katherine replied “we love the woods and land and want to improve the property.” Herbert followed her response, “I love the woods and feel like I’m doing something.” He continued “I believe in the program… We are lucky to be able to do it.” Speaking on the hardships that the two have faced, Herbert said “The toughest times are your best times.” He continued “I’d do it over again,” and Katherine quickly followed, saying “we did buy a Powerball [ticket] though.”