College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Institute of Applied Agriculture

Fresh Pine and Tinsel Time for Santerre

Nina LaTassa

‘Tis the season for hot chocolate, candy canes, and Christmas trees!  For IAA student Luke Santerre, trees—specifically, Norway spruces, Colorado blue spruces, white pines, and Canaan firs—make his days merry and bright on the grounds of Hidden Lake Farm. The Santerres own the farm, which is located in Port Republic, MD.  A landscape management major, Santerre spends busy weekends working with his parents and five siblings selling the trees they planted long ago.

“I like working with my family. We have so many great memories, but the best is watching the trees grow. We have about 3,000 of them on the farm,” says Santerre.

People have been coming to Hidden Lake for the past couple of years to seek out their favorite Christmas greenery. According to Santerre, this is the first year that the family invested in advertising the farm. “We did our business last year through word-of-mouth,” says Santerre.  “We still sold a lot, but this year, we sold much more.”

The tree that sells most among the families who frequent the farm is none other than the Norway spruce because of its rich, dark green color. “You just have to watch it around kids because they have sharper needles,” he warns. 

With so much time spent working among the greens, Santerre’s family looks forward to cutting down the perfect pine. “We’ll do something simple in terms of decorating it—just put up some light ornaments and a cranberry-popcorn strand,” he smiles. “And my mom and dad will work on wreaths together. My mom makes the bows to decorate, and my dad makes the wreaths.”

Indeed, a sense of togetherness and sharing are values the Santerres place above all else, especially during the busyness of the holiday season.

“One dollar from every tree that we sell goes to the local food pantry,” says Santerre. “And we give out hot chocolate and candy canes for free. You can donate, but whatever we get goes to our church.”

As for the future of the farm, Santerre is intent on being planted in the family business.  “I’d like to expand on what we have to offer,” he says excitedly. “I’d like to dig the trees to sell. There’s a pretty good market for locally grown trees!” 

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