Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree At Warkentin’s In Leamington
On a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon in mid-October, I visited with the Enns family and was given a tour of their farm. I am grateful for their “country” hospitality and welcome!
Steve and Shelley Enns and their three children, Gracie (14), Simon (13) and Maddie (11) run the family business, Warkentin’s Cut-Your- Own Christmas Tree Farm, on Mersea Road 8, just off Highway 77 in Leamington.
Shelley’s parents, Art and Erna Warkentin, long-time farmers, started the business 30 years ago when they decided the sand hill on the east side of their farm would be a good place to try growing some evergreen trees. Today, it has thousands of trees of various sizes and varieties growing for the purpose of becoming Christmas trees.
Shelley and her three sisters enjoyed helping their parents when they were younger. She remembers that the weekends leading up to Christmas “were busy, fun-filled days helping people find their perfect tree.” These days, even though Steve and Shelley now own the farm, their family, including their three kids and nieces, all still come out to help. It’s less a business for them, than it is a family project and hobby.
The business has grown largely through word of mouth. And it didn’t take long for word to get around there were Christmas trees for sale on the 8th (road)!
In addition to the Christmas tree “farm,” Steve, a third generation farmer, also farms soybeans on their 75 acres, and owns a greenhouse business (tomatoes), Enns Plant Farm, on the 9th Concession.
The most popular trees they grow are the Fraser Fir, followed by the Blue and White Spruce. And the most difficult to grow is the Fraser Fir since it does not naturally grow in the iconic “cone” shape and requires significant shaping. Fraser Firs are also very temperamental when it comes to growing conditions.
While customers keep the Enns family busy during the Christmas season, the family works with the trees throughout the year. Every spring they plant more trees and, because it takes seven to 10 years for a tree to grow to full size, they try to choose varieties that will still be popular in the future.
Shelley and the kids spend the summer months keeping the weeds down and pruning and shaping the trees. Shelley wields a three-foot long “Ninja Blade” she uses to trim and shape the 6,000 plus trees as she walks up and down the rows.