Sarah Scharlau standing at her Christmas tree farm

Walking in a Christmas Tree Winter Wonderland

In true farm kid fashion, Sarah Scharlau was born at the worst possible time in the middle of the harvest season. Christmas tree harvest season that is. Sarah is now a fifth-generation FarmHer at Pleasant Valley Tree Farm. Her farm is the perfect place to create country Christmas memories. Chatting with her for this episode FarmHer Talks feels like walking in a winter wonderland.

An average day for Sarah includes coming home covered in sap, oil, green spray, bruises, diesel, ragweed, cuts, dirt, and a little glitter. But not a day goes by where she does not think about how lucky she is to work alongside her family on this special farm.

Country Christmas Memories

Sarah grew up alongside four siblings, her parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and dozens of cousins all on the farm.

She enjoys being one big happy family living, growing, laughing, working, and playing together while also building a successful business. Out of her father’s six siblings, he sparked the most interest in the family farm. Luckily for Sarah, that means that she and her four siblings do most of the labor around the farm. All five of the kids may not all agree on this, but she believes they are extremely blessed their father made that decision years ago.

Since she can remember, Sarah has been Christmas tree farm obsessed.

Her father tells the story of him and his four-year-old Sarah driving a gooseneck load of trees into downtown Minneapolis. When they arrived to unload the 450 trees, Sarah followed right alongside her dad, crawled into the back of the trailer, and started trying to carry seven-foot Christmas trees all by herself!

Sarah Scharlau as a child at her family's Christmas tree farm standing next to wreaths and Santa.

Wherever or whatever her parents were doing on the farm, she has always been right there.

It’s a Family Tradition

Her family farm has been operating for five generations nestled in the hills of Elk Mound, Wisconsin.

The farm was homesteaded in 1893 by Sarah’s great-great-grandparents. The farm started off as a dairy, crop, and hog farm before Sarah’s grandfather got the craving to try something new in 1976.

The first Christmas trees were planted by her grandparents, father, and his five siblings. From there the tradition continued.

The tree farm is now a very successful operation where they’ve added fun activities too, like a fall harvest festival. In addition, they bought many mobile home courts.

The passion for her grandparents and parents really stayed in the Christmas trees, though. Now, her parents and two brothers are running the farm and many rental units. The other two siblings are still in school, but also work on the farm day in day out. She and her brothers each take on a different area of the rental business, but all three work in every area of the farm.

Pleasant Valley Farm gift shop

Talk About a Busy Holiday Season

She and her siblings do anything and everything. From baking cookies, bars, and treats for their fall harvest festival, stocking their concession stand, setting up the spooky woods, cleaning out bounce houses, helping set hay forts, planting pumpkins, painting background scenes, driving tractors for hayrides, and working in the gift shop, they’ve done it all. And that’s all just for the entertainment aspect in the fall.

For the Christmas tree side of the business, everyone has a hand in planting 25,000 trees yearly, shearing thousands of trees, green spraying 3,000 white pine, fertilizing all of the trees, picking pine cones on 150,000 Fraser Firs, mowing 300 acres of tree fields, cutting down 15,0000 trees yearly, bailing trees, loading semi-trucks, doing financial books, payroll, taxes, serving over 10,000 of cups and bags of hot chocolate, popcorn and hot cider to their customers, picking boughs, making 750 wreaths, 3500ft of roping, 100 porch pots and then decorating everything so it is over the top festive for Christmas. 

Whew! Just reading all of their tasks makes me tired!

Christmas trees in a pile after harvest.

Independent FarmHer Spirit

Sarah’s father always told her and her sister that if they put their minds to it, they could have and do everything their brothers did. She is so thankful that he gave them that opportunity. Now, her parents have two hardworking girls who can run a chainsaw flawlessly, graciously back up a 25-foot trailer, drive a tractor, talk about any Christmas Tree species just as well as their sons (if not better). The girls also set up a beautiful gift shop, bake like there is no tomorrow, decorate porch pots, wreaths, and swags just like Martha Stewart.

Sarah Scharlau and her sisters holding wreaths at their Christmas tree farm

The girls’ independent FarmHer spirit was modeled from both of their grandmothers and their own mother. From the shop to the field, they were there. And Sarah feels blessed to be raised by women who are proud to be in the agriculture world. 

To her whole family, this is more than a job. Their farm is giving back to the earth, promoting keeping Christ in Christmas, helping other families create traditions, continuing a legacy their grandparents started, and most of all building a stronger, healthier, and happier family unit.

And to me, that is the ultimate family tradition.

Everybody Eats 

Find More Stories at Everybody Eats

We all eat, and that is why farming will always matter.  Everybody Eats is where the stories of food and farming intersect.  

These stories told through my FarmHer lens connect us to our food and more importantly, the people behind it.  

Everybody Eats is a collection of stories of those who protect our rural communities, who grow our food with extraordinary care, and who provide support, education, and assistance to make sure Everybody Eats. 


11 thoughts on “Walking in a Christmas Tree Winter Wonderland

  1. Beautiful place and the most gorgeous Christmas Trees we’ve been going there for 11-15 years now love the atmosphere and how pleasant everyone is!! Thank you!

  2. I really liked this story. I really liked the family traditions category. and it was crazy how many trees there were

  3. I like this article because Christmas is a great season and Christmas trees are an important part of the Christmas season. I did not know that farming trees was so hard and messy! The information from this article is useful because It teaches hard work ethics and that family is important.

  4. I am not going to lie but Christmas tree farming this the first time I heard about it. and so it is a very interesting topic that caught my eye and might have got other’s eyes too.

  5. I loved this article because I love the Christmas season! and Christmas trees are soooooo important in the Christmas season it just wouldn’t be the same without the Christmas tree. I also learned a lot about how hard it is to be a Christmas tree farmer, I mean who knew how many trees you planted! thank you so much for this story it was really inspirational. 🙂

  6. I liked this article because I like Christmas. I learned that it was a dairy farm before and that was neat. It is useful information because if I ever wanted to start a farm.

  7. I liked this article because i love Christmas and I also love Christmas trees they just bring Christmas alive. I also liked this article because I love the dedication you put into your farm just for the customers.

  8. This article is informational and that is one of the many reasons I liked it. The Talk About a Busy Holiday Season section amazed me because that is a lot of work to do. This is use full information because we have a Christmas tree farm near here and this makes me realize there is a lot that you have to do to Christmas tree farm.

  9. I liked this article because I think it’s cool how they do it as a family. I learned that Christmas tree farming is hard work and I think that is important because we need Christmas trees.

  10. I liked the article because it describes everything about the harvest and her life. I learned that in this article it talks about how if you put your mind to it you can do anything. This is useful information because you always need to have motivation in life.

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