The year was 1959, and a young man named Warren Church was raising his family in north Monterey County, not far from Elkhorn Slough. He purchased property on Hidden Valley Road which he called Verde Vista, and began to plant Monterey pine seedlings to create one of the area’s first Christmas tree farms.
A few years later, Warren started a second tree farm on nearby property that his mother and grandfather had originally purchased in the 1920s. Warren’s grandfather, Clinton King, cleared much of the property of oaks by hand when he was nearly 70 years old. Through the Great Depression, the farm was used to grow popcorn and produce honey which Warren’s mother and father sold door to door.
The Christmas tree farms are now nearly 60 years old, and Warren’s son, Glenn, now oversees the farm. With Glenn’s two sons, that makes three generations that have grown Christmas trees in Hidden Valley, and five generations that have farmed in North County.
Over the years, we have planted dozens of different species but have found Monterey pine, Douglas fir, white fir, Italian stone pine, white spruce, Leyland cypress and incense cedar to do best in our Mediterranean climate.
Our Christmas tree farms at 470 and 385 Hidden Valley Road open the day after Thanksgiving. Sometimes only one farm is open at a time, but during busy periods both usually are open. The 470 farm is a Christmas tree plantation of nine scattered patches surrounded by a forest of coastal live oak trees. The tree patches are scattered amidst the oaks and manzanita and present a hike over 19 acres of varied terrain and vegetation. Of course, you can view most of the patches by car if you choose. The 385 Farm is laid out in open fields with a gentle slope that allows a view of most of the trees from any location and easy accessibility.
After we are done selling trees, it is time to plant a new crop of trees that will be for sale in 4-12 years.
Christmas tree farming is a year-round job. Here is Glenn Church shearing a Douglas Fir in October.
Some of our native wildlife includes rabbits, raccoons, possums, skunks, coyotes, quail, foxes and this deer family. It is unlikely that you will see any as they tend to disappear during the Christmas season.
Every year, we donate a few trees to worthy causes and organizations. Here is a noble fir being given to the Prunedale Senior Center.
Our farm at 385 Hidden Valley has a display of old farm equipment. Some of it was used during the Great Depression on this farm to grow popcorn.
Both of our farms have picnic tables where you can relax and have a snack while searching for a tree.