A Family Affair at Russell Christmas Tree Farm in Starksboro
December 02, 2021
Russell Christmas Tree Farm in Starksboro has been in business for 40 years. The family-owned farm is where visitors flock to every holiday season for Christmas trees.
Dave and Janet Russell bought Russell Christmas Tree Farm from Janet’s parents in the 1970s. The farm was a dairy farm until the couple sold their cows nearly a decade ago. Now they primarily focus on growing Christmas trees—and producing maple syrup—on their 360-acre farm.
Visitors to Russell Christmas Tree Farm can take a horse-drawn wagon ride to a hilltop field where there are hundreds of trees. After cutting their tree, guests can head to a nearby cabin Dave constructed in 1990 to cozy up by the fire, sip on hot cocoa, and eat cookies.
For Dave, creating an experience with Christmas trees and sleigh rides was a long-time dream that became a reality 40 years ago.
“I guess I wanted an excuse to have horses,” he says. “My dad had horses, and I grew up with horses. I had this vision of taking people with the horses to get a Christmas tree. We started planting (trees) with this in mind in the 1970s and bought our first pair of colts out of Canada.”
Back when he was running the dairy farm, growing and selling Christmas trees was something Dave enjoyed in his spare time. But once milk prices made it too difficult to maintain a viable dairy business, he decided to fully embrace his Christmas tree business.
“I feel like we’re losing a lot of tradition. I think it’s important that we have traditions for our families,” he says. “I think people appreciate this experience. It’s very gratifying to know you’re doing something very meaningful to families.”
For more information, visit www.therussellfarm.com. Appointments for sleigh rides can be booked online.
Happy Vermont Podcast: Russell Christmas Tree Farm
In this episode of Happy Vermont’s podcast, David Russell and his grandson Brandon Mansfield talk about Christmas tree farming, the power of tradition, and the farm’s future.