Swan Tree Farm—A Real Family Affair

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Swan Tree Farm—A Real Family Affair

Make the Minneapolis Farmers Market part of your holiday season!

Christmas Trees are part of the Minneapolis Farmers Market, and have been for decades. Hear the stories of the two families selling trees at the market. One family farms their own trees and has brought them to the Market for close to twenty years (Swan Tree Farm), and the other has been bringing trees to the market since the 1940’s—picture It’s a Wonderful Life (Paul Reichel Christmas trees, who doesn’t grow them, but sells them).

Hours to come find your perfect tree are a little later than usual Market hours were for your convenience. They are Monday through Thursday from 9am-7pm and Friday through Sunday 9am-9pm. And don’t forget! The original Minneapolis Farmers Market is on the North side under the long red sheds (the South side is the Annex side is privately owned and not affiliated with the Minneapolis Farmers Market.)

Swan Tree Farm—A Real Family Affair

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Being Christmas tree farmers like the Swans of Swan Tree Farm, is more of a lifestyle than a job. Daniel Swan has always lived with trees, and his father grew trees, but it was Daniel who first brought the homegrown Wisconsin trees to the Minneapolis Farmers Market.

“We’ve been coming to the Minneapolis Farmers Market for more than sixteen years. Our whole family is part of it. We grow trees, of course, and have wreaths and greenery, and we also make maple syrup and candy. Even the Christmas carols playing right now are part of the Swan family,” Daniel Swan said.

And you can feel that enthusiasm. These trees have a story.

Talking to one of the Swan’s five children, Chase, who is still at home going to high school, you can learn a lot about the Christmas tree business. Chase and his brother drive about three and a half hours into Minneapolis on the weekends to help. “This is the fun part. The summer is the hard work—planting, shearing. We take a machete to shape the trees.” This trimming is why the trees look so full and beautiful, though natural trees are growing in popularity and don’t need as much work. The Minneapolis Farmers Market is one of the only places where you can purchase a natural Frasier tree.

And these trees are beautiful, all of them: the amazing smelling balsam, the regal Frasiers, the white pine, the scotch pine—all here for your choosing. And the wreaths and greenery to decorate your home are all available. “I make wreaths,” Chase adds.

“The spring is when we make the maple syrup. The cold nights and the warmer days make the sap run really well. And we make a darker, deeper syrup which has more minerals and sweetness,”

Chase says. And if you haven’t tried Swan’s maple syrup poured on a warm buttermilk pancake, well, you might want to do that, because words surely aren’t going to get at how good that is!

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There’s something lovely in the story of all this.

You realize that tree being tied to the top of your car has been part of the Swan family for almost as long as the son who is tying it up. The average eight or nine-foot tree can take up to fourteen years before it’s ready to come to your home.

And as you walk under those red sheds that have stood right here since 1937 (and in other locations since 1876), where just weeks ago there was thousands of people and tables full of summer’s bounty, to a cold evening, carols playing, families coming back, year after year for their Christmas trees—it really does feel like a family affair.

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Paul Reichel Trees—What Wonderful Trees

Have you watched It’s a Wonderful Life? Don’t you just crave that feeling George Bailey felt at the end of the movie—that that sense of belonging and mattering in your community, you know, like your life is wonderful?

You could say that buying your Christmas tree at the Minneapolis Farmers Market) is a little bit like living in a community like Bedford Falls—where people provide for and support each other and making things work.

People have been buying these trees at the Minneapolis Farmers Market since, well, if you have watched It’s a Wonderful Life, with those vintage cars pulling into the new house, the full skirts, cinched waists, soda fountains, and Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed showing you the way— that’s how long this tree seller’s family has been bringing trees down to the market for your Christmases, since the 1940’s.

“My Grandfather started selling trees at the Minneapolis Farmers Market in the 40’s. I’ve been selling trees since I was thirteen, all us grandkids used to come down here and help sell the trees. I have a full time job now, but, well, I still come down most evenings and weekends to be part of all this. Nothing like it!” Grandson Jamison said of his grandfather, Calvin Gray, who started the legacy that is now Reichel’s Trees, still in the family.

Some trees are suspended from the summer stalls, wobbling in the wind, others perched and ready to stack on your car and drag on into your house.

Can you just smell that pine?

“I come back every year, because of the people. Some of them remember me, that 13-year- old kid selling trees with my Grandpa.” Jamison said. And others, who maybe weren’t there then, but want to build a holiday tradition, this market offers a chance to tap into a long history and story—that will be here for years and years to come.

Whether you want a balsam or a Frasier fir, the Market has trees, wreaths and greenery to make your holidays beautiful. Sure, you could go buy one at a big box store, but who knows where it came from?

It’s not just bringing a tree into your house for a few weeks. It’s investing in a way of life that says what we all do matters.

These are the things that move us to shop the Minneapolis Farmers Market, because we care about how it got here and into your own wonderful life.

2017-01-30T18:20:35+00:00 Categories: Growing, Meeting, Vendors|Tags: , |