By Janet Wight
Encompassing 40 acres, the Hansen Tree Farm in Ramsey is the closest Christmas tree farm to the Twin Cities, and it has local roots: It’s owned by longtime St. Anthony Park residents and brothers Dave and Mark Hansen.
The Bugle recently spoke with Dave Hansen to learn more about the family business.
This full-service tree farm, now run by the second and third generation family members, was established in the 1950s.
While growing the business into one of the top five Christmas tree farms in the state, each family member handles different aspects of the business along with their day jobs, family responsibilities and volunteer commitments, said Dave Hansen.
A family endeavor: Mark’s three sons are all active in the business. Tryg supervises the outdoor workers while his wife Jeanne manages the gift shop, assisted by Mark’s wife Brenda. Per and his wife Marie assist with making wreaths. Food and beverage service along with social media are Kip’s responsibility.
Meanwhile, Britta and Kell, Dave’s children, are also involved with the farm. Britta oversees the flourishing commercial photography business. Although Kell no longer lives in Minnesota, he returns home each year to assist during the bustling Thanksgiving weekend.
Dave’s primary duties are planting new trees and tending to older ones. Last year, the Hansens planted about 7,000 trees at the farm.
Part of tending and caring for the trees is aided by an irrigation system, which the farm has had for the past 14 years, helping to overcome periods of drought. Repairing leaks is a never-ending job, Dave Hansen said.
He added that other time consuming chores include weed control, mowing, fertilizing and shearing. Thanks to the farm’s irrigation system, it takes only eight to 10 years of growth for the pine and fir trees to be ready for sale.
Customers can select either a pre-cut tree or cut their own with saws and assistance available.
Besides trees, Mark’s handcrafted, award-winning wreaths are a popular sale item and each year draw many repeat customers to the farm.
A variety of complementary refreshments and delightful experiences enhance any purchase, including hot beverages, Swedish Christmas sausage (from Grandpa’s secret recipe), hayrides, live music and dispersed campfire sites stocked with kindling and wood.
Each tree is priced at $140, regardless of the type or size, which Hansen admits is the most expensive price locally.
“It’s a little mini-vacation for a few hours, and it provides a lot of value compared to attending a sporting event with the family,” Hansen explained.
Maintain your distance: Social distancing is a natural part of the experience at Hansen Tree Farm. The entire process of selecting a tree can be done outdoors, with online payment, so everyone can feel comfortable visiting the farm.
Sales have increased 50% since the beginning of the pandemic, Hansen noted.
Seasonally, about 25 high school students from St. Anthony Park and Como Park are employed and they help with planting and shearing.
“We could not make this work without the high school helpers,” Dave Hansen said. “They are the greatest helpers and they love it.”
Commercial photography is another notable part of the tree farm business. The tree farm is available for photography every month of the year, with more than 200 photography sessions booked annually.
The Hansen Tree Farm provides visitors the opportunity to savor a classic Minnesota tradition while building memories with family and friends.
Janet Wight lives in Como Park and is a regular freelance writer for the Bugle.