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Conservation and Christmas Trees

Row upon neat row of evergreens grow in the acres of fields. Two Conservancy-protected properties include Christmas tree plantations as part of their land management and conservation priorities. But there’s more than that happening at each of these properties.

Every year, especially during the holiday season, landowners Hunter Carbee and Dan Houghton remember how the gift of conservation not only helped them, but also contributed to protecting clean water downstream, to keeping forests healthy, and to providing a place for wildlife and for other families to connect with the land and make memories.

Carbee Farm

In Greenfield, New Hampshire, the 70-acre Carbee Farm features hayfields, an historic sawmill foundation, frontage along Rand Brook, and plenty of “New England” woods, in addition to the tree farm. Hunter’s parents purchased the farm in 1932; four generations of Carbees have now lived here. Hunter, a licensed professional forester, takes a methodical approach to caring for the land.

For the size of the property, there is an amazing diversity of habitats and uses here. The Carbees have seen moose, deer, turkeys, grouse, and woodcock. The upper fields are split between hayfields and the tree farm, while the bulk of the property is sustainably managed for timber. The Carbee property is part of a contiguous block of more than 1,000 protected acres in the Piscataquog River watershed.

Houghton Farm

This 210-acre property in Spofford, New Hampshire, has played a large part in the lives of the Houghton family for generations, spanning more than 200 years. Dan’s grandparents ran a dairy farm here. His father started the tree farm in the 1980s, and Dan has been in charge of operations for the past two decades. The Christmas trees are cared for by Dan as a passion of his, a welcome diversion from a full-time corporate job.

The tree farm fields slope down to a large beaver pond. The woods include a mix of tree species and ages, and are part of the largest unfragmented forest block in the California Brook watershed.

Editor’s note: Regrettably, both tree farms are now closed for the season as they have already sold the number of trees they can sell each year and keep operations sustainable.