Letting go: Bergman Christmas tree farm closes
By Eileen Persike, Editor
One holiday tradition will change this year for many Rhinelander area families; Pete and Elsie Bergman included. The Bergmans will no longer be selling Christmas trees from the property surrounding their home on Hwy G, south of Rhinelander. It’s something they have been doing for thirty years.
“My dad retired in 1971 and started planting trees after that, and I was his helper,” Pete recalled. “I started planting trees here in 1980, and selling them in the mid ‘80s. But it’s gotten to a point where it’s just too much.”
Elsie had experienced some health problems last winter, and to put it simply, pruning trees is a lot of work. Caring for evergreens that will eventually become the focal point of someone’s decorated holiday home is a year round endeavor.
“I would start out in the spring and plant, and then I would cut the grass because it can harm the trees,” according to Pete. “Then in the early fall, I’d start pruning and sometimes never get done!”
Both Elsie and Pete say they will miss it; talking with all the people and families who would spend time walking through the tree farm every year, looking for the perfect specimen. As much as he would have liked to pass the trees on to a family member, it just didn’t work out. He tried to convince his grandson, a high school senior, to take the farm over while attending college, but he just wasn’t interested.
Pete put some feelers out for someone to lease the land and harvest the trees. Eventually he found the right person, offering the right price. The trees will be cut down next week, baled and hauled away.
“I don’t know, it seems kind of early to me. Some people didn’t want to buy a tree that had been cut for just a couple hours,” he said quietly. “I would have kept at it, but at some point, you just have to let it go.”
After nearly 50 years in the Christmas tree business, Pete Bergman has decided he’s reached that point.