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'Real' Christmas Tree
Is A Tradition For Many
by Maricia Mlynek

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The Schumacher Christmas Tree Farm is located off Rt. 5, 4.5 miles east of Grantsville. About one mile back Laurel Creek, you will begin to see large pines lining the gravel road.

I made my first visit to the Schumacher’s home before Christmas two years ago. It was a cold, crisp, winter day, and snow had blanketed the ground. I looked upon the quaint, welcoming home of Frank and Joan Schumacher, and knew right away that this was a place I would like to visit again.

The log cabin had a warm glow from each window, and with the soft, white snow falling around, I felt as if we had stepped into a Currier and Ives painting.

We were greeted by Frank, who offered us a saw to cut down our first Calhoun Christmas tree. Little did we know that we had begun a new tradition. Each year, we return with the same goal, to walk through the pine grove and find the ideal tree.

We are not the only visitors to the Schumacher farm; in fact, we are only one of thousands who have taken home an evergreen from this couple.

The Schumachers began tree farming in New Jersey. Their farm was located 75 miles outside of New York City and 55 miles from Philadelphia. Frank explained that they bought into a franchise that sold trees, shrubs, terrariums, etc.

“We had a lot of fun experiences,” said Frank. “We delivered all over the states, from Florida to Michigan. We were contracted with JC Penney. We went to Brooklyn, New York City, and Long Island. One year, we delivered to 12 stores in New York, but in one day, five of them sold out of our terrariums. It was an exciting time.”

In 1978, the Schumachers came to Calhoun. They began building their home and planting trees in 1981.

“We have grown Christmas trees for over 40 years. It is a fun experience, if you are nutty enough to do it,” said Frank. “Many people think you just put the tree in the ground and let it grow, but that’s not the case. Each year, the trees have to be shaped, trimmed, and sheared. Between the deer and dry years, we have lost a lot of trees. My wife asks why I bother. By the end of the season, I make about 30 cents a day, but it is enjoyable. At Christmas, the same families come in, and it is a sight to see. A fellow came in last weekend with his kids and smiled real big as he said ‘See you next year.’ It’s pretty great.”

Frank Schumacher describes how deer damage his Christmas tree harvest.

The Schumacher Tree Farm began with 10 to 15,000 trees. The trees they sell today are mostly Scotch pine and Norway spruce. Each season, they sell about 100 trees--and remember the days in New Jersey when they sold more than they could count.

“This is a different world, and it was the best move we could ever have made,” said Frank.

They have two children, Scott and Shirley Anne, two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Some may prefer the tree that sits in a box in the attic, and some may not want to bother with the needles of a real tree. As for me and my house, we will always trudge into the woods to find that perfect tree of the year.

This is a Christmas tradition we love, and we are thankful to say that the Schumacher farm is part of the experience. Perhaps you will consider making it part of your holiday too.

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