Just a short 2.5-mile drive from downtown Duvall, off of picturesque NE Cherry Valley Road, you’ll find our 10-acre tree farm.
The property, one of the oldest farms in western Washington, became a Christmas tree farm in the early 70’s. It was owned by the Viperman family and called VIP’s Tree Farm for nearly 30 years. Josh and Crystal Polacek moved to the farm in 2000 BK (before kids), for the wonderful natural property, the creekside location, room for their landscape and construction company, and a great opportunity to sell Christmas trees.
Both Josh and Crystal are keeping it rural: Josh and his brother were born and raised in Duvall (his father still lives in town), and Crystal grew up in Snohomish (her parents — who don’t seem to age despite having raised eight kids — and several brothers and sisters still live there, and one of her sisters lives right up the road from the tree farm with her family). The Polaceks can’t imagine living anywhere else to raise their three children and run their businesses. Both love the small-town, know-your-neighbors community that is the city of Duvall.
The Christmas tree farm is truly a family-run business. Josh and Crystal manage the planning and preparations for tree season, which sometimes involves a bit of demolition as was the case last year when they tore down the old sales shack to lay pavers and make the covered area larger for customers to gather. This year, Josh dug up some of the mushy earth in the field and installed a pea gravel path to make things a bit less messy for the families who visit the farm. They’re also onsite every weekend and most weekdays, greeting customers, answering questions, and jumping right into help wherever it’s needed.
You’ll find Josh and Crystal’s daughter, Jessi, running the register in the sales shack, while son J.Jay helps with tree production, shaking, baling, and hauling trees to customers’ vehicles. According to his parents, it’s really youngest son Jacob that runs the show. Known as The 3.75-Foot Tall Foreman (last year he was The 3.5-Foot Tall Foreman), he is the boss of everyone and has his hand in everything … sometimes literally! His trusty sidekick and the farm’s mascot, Cash, is the family’s black Lab. Tree Farm Dog, as he’s called, meanders around the farm greeting families and escorting customers through the field. He’s been known to keep a close eye on the roasting of s’mores, steal a glove, and break a credit card machine all in the name of Christmas spirit. If he’s tethered when you visit us, you know he’s “this close” to making the Naughty List.
Running a Christmas tree farm wouldn’t be possible without the crew — Josh’s landscape company’s employees. These guys put in many, many hours and a ton of energy unloading and setting up trees, hauling trees from the field, and assisting customers with shaking, baling, and tying down trees on vehicles. Josh and Crystal are grateful each year for the hardworking, respectful, and kind people they have come to depend on to operate this business.
In addition to the hand-picked, fresh-cut Noble Firs offered during Christmas tree season, the farm boasts a crop of u-cut Grand, Fraser, and Noble Firs. In any given year, there are approximately 6,000 trees in the field. Tall, small, and everything in between! Tree farms are a 12-month process. Many people think trees are planted and then cut down six to eight years later to be taken home for the holidays. But Christmas trees require a lot of attention. Our crews mow the field all spring and summer, fertilize the trees twice a year, trim the grass between the rows, and assure each tree is looking its very best before opening day.
As you can imagine, there a number of animals and birds that visit us at the farm throughout the year. Last year, the most adorable Northern Pygmy Owl made his home in our tree field. He was with us for a few weeks before heading off on a new adventure. We haven’t seen him this year, but we were lucky enough to have our bird enthusiast friend take some beautiful photos of him last year.
There are several songbirds that nest in our trees throughout the year. In the spring, they go crazy darting around with each other, always watchful of the eagles that sit at the top of the tallest tree near the road. Pheasants will wander onto the property and hang out under the Christmas trees, and we’ve seen Blue Herons fly in and land in the creek. Speaking of the creek, every other year it fills to gills with salmon — Humpies and Kings — during their spawning migration. It’s quite a sight to see so many big fish in such a small area. Things get a bit “Circle of Life” when the salmon die; those eagles in the tall tree swoop down to the creek and fly off with the fish. Be thankful that our trusty crew walks the rows in our field before we open, otherwise you’d find more than Grand, Fraser, and Noble Firs on your Christmas tree hunt.
Some of our larger animal visitors include Blacktail deer. The males come through and rub the trees with their antlers. While it must feel amazing to the deer, it’s not good for the trees! It strips the bark from the trunks and breaks branches.
Some of our more carnivorous large animal visitors include bobcats, cougars, and bears. While we don’t see these creatures often, knowing we share this land with them is a constant reminder to us to be mindful and respectful of the fact that we’re running a business alongside our partner, Mother Nature.