A letter from William Werner on the start of Werner Tree Farm
My grandfather, Fred Werner, moved to Middlebury from Rochester, NY in 1971, and brought his passion for planting trees with him. When my grandmother and my parents are talking after dinner and he comes up, they'll say that it was "his thing." On the coldest, rainiest days of the spring he'd be out there with a shovel and a truckload of saplings, maples, birches, pines, whatever kinds he could find. As his children grew up and started lives of their own, my parents David and Cheryl settled down right next to my grandparent's house. One year, Fred gave them 13 young Scotch Pine, and they decided to try their hand at growing them as Christmas trees.
Fred is no longer with us, but his hobby has blossomed into a thriving family business. Werner Tree Farm sits on the outskirts of Middlebury, with about 20,000 trees comprised of a dozen or so species spread over 36 acres. During the spring and early summer, we go out among them planting new saplings in the gaps between trees in the rows to replace those that were cut during the winter. Later in the summer and the fall, we go back again with our shearing knives and carefully trim and shape each one again. And finally, when November comes around, we convert my father's woodworking shop into the Christmas Shop. And for the 4-5 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is a central part of our lives.