Santa's Tree Farm and Village is a family owned and operated Choose-and-Cut Christmas Tree Farm originating in 1972 from a teenage boy's F.F.A. project. While in high school in 1969, Dan Sare decided to plant Monterey Pine Christmas tree seedlings for his required high school project. Dan purchased, planted and tended to less than an acre of seedlings on a piece of land where his family owned and ran a dairy farm. This high school project turned into a business three years later when the pines were ready to harvest.
Years later, more seedlings were purchased as Dan, with the help of his father Cleo, began experimenting with growing different types of Christmas trees such as Grand Fir and Douglas Fir. Knowing that the fir trees took much longer to grow than the pines, the fir seedlings were strategically planted amongst the 640-acre farm in order to develop fields of trees that customers could choose and cut on a consistent basis.
Dan then wanted to give customers even more choices when shopping for the perfect Christmas tree. So even though Noble Fir and Concolor Fir Christmas trees tend to not grow as quickly in California, Dan took a chance and planted a few acres of those too. This gamble, along with the patience necessary for planting a tree that takes 12 years to grow, proved to be a good one as Santa's Tree Farm and Village is now one of the few Christmas tree farms in California that grow Noble Fir and Concolor Fir Christmas trees, and their trees have earned them numerous awards.
In 1987 Dan met his future wife, Natalie. They married in 1992 and had a son, Mike. The three of them are members of the National Christmas Tree Growers Association, the California Christmas Tree Growers Association and they frequently attend conferences through the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Growers Association.
Their family business, Santa's Tree Farm and Village, has been awarded the best fir tree in the state of California multiple years by the California Christmas Tree Growers Association. The family has hosted California Christmas Tree Growers Association conferences at their farm where they presented information on pruning techniques, marketing and fir tree development.
Santa's Tree Farm and Village, that began with less than an acre of trees and a young man's vision, now boasts 70 acres of Choose-and-Cut Christmas Trees on the families 487-acre farm full of rolling hills and other nooks and crannies that tree growers discover along with the adventure of cutting the perfect Christmas tree. Picnic tables for family lunches have been placed throughout the farm. Costumed characters such as Frosty the Snowman or Rudolph the Reindeer wave to tree shoppers from the trackless train that winds its way along some of the tree fields. And most special to the Sares, generations of families have come to visit them throughout the years. Often tree shoppers remember something funny or touching that happened years prior and bring that up to the owners as they sip on a complimentary cup of hot apple cider.
Multiple generations visiting the farm every year for 40 plus years is very special to the owners. "I came here every year as a child with my parents, now I am bringing my children here," is a phrase said repeatedly by tree shoppers at the farm and always brings an endearing smile to the faces of those who hear it.
After a business trip attending a farm tour in the Pacific Northwest, the Sare's followed suit with what they saw and turned their dairy barn into what is now The Elves Workshop. On weekends The Elves Workshop has inside of it "elves" making handmade wreaths and garland from the greens right there on the farm, Sleigh Bells Gift Shop where one can purchase a variety of ornaments and other Christmas tree decor, and Mrs. Claus Kitchen—a snack shop with what some call the cutest and best tasting Christmas cookies in holiday shapes of bells, trees, Santas and candy canes. And, of course, Santa Claus himself is in The Elves Workshop too!
The family's son, Mike Sare, has been writing and voicing the complimentary puppet show for several years, as well as assisting with the storytime with Mrs. Claus and visits with Santa. Natalie fondly remembers when Mike was a toddler and her husband Dan began growing Noble Fir Christmas trees. "When our 18-month-old and I would go on walks throughout the tree farm, he was about the size of the baby Noble Fir trees. He literally grew up with them. " Natalie says.
Someone dear to the Sare family once said, "History is important because it sets a course for the future." Natalie and Dan Sare feel strongly that this is true. Dan's father Cleo worked hard to buy this land many years ago and continued to work the land his entire life. Natalie's father, a farmer as well, worked the land on his farm every day six days a week up until the day he was hospitalized and passed away at the age of 79. Dan's mother made sandwiches for him and his father while they worked, assuring that they ate something while commiting to long hours on the farm, and Natalie's mother cooked for all her father's farm hands as that is often how it was done in those days.
The Sares hope to continue all these traditions, old and new. Because the history of the family farm, and their Christmas tree farm that sits on top of it, clearly sets a course for the future but is also strong in the present and very much intertwined with this family's past.