Trempealeau family tree farm closing ahead of Christmas season, family hopeful for the future

TREMPEALEAU, Wis. (WKBT) — For many families, cutting down your own Christmas tree is tradition. If its yours– you might be seeing fewer options. Lamke Tree Farm, a family business in Trempealeau, is closing its gates ahead of the season.

“This would be our 58th year being open,” said Paul Lamke, a second generation tree farmer. “Every year that I remember, I’ve been here. It has really been wonderful.”

For the Lamkes, it is also tradition to welcome families onto their farm.

“Dad bought the property in the late 50s—it was very inexpensive land at the time—and he had the vision of starting a tree farm,” Lamke said.

A family business– now on its third generation. Emma Usgaard, Lamke’s daughter, looks back on each holiday season and planting season fondly.

“Cousins, aunts, uncles, my sister and my parents. Grandpa, grandma even at times. It’s sad now that we don’t have grandpa here—he was really integral to the tree farm. He started it way back when,” Usgaard said.

Thanksgiving weekend is typically busy. But not this year.

“Generally, we have about 1,000 that would be cuttable,” Lamke said. “When we plant, the drought conditions or the dryness just at the wrong time of year has taken out a lot of numbers.”

Lamke says that this holiday season, their gates are closed.

“We have been limiting our sales,” Lamke said. “We do not have the numbers and we got behind the power curve.”

Low supply is something he and his daughter Emma say has been a long time coming.

Last year, the farm was only open for one weekend.

“The last couple of years, honestly, I’m sure people who have come out here have noticed—we’re pretty short on full-size Christmas trees,” Usgaard said.

That doesn’t mean the farm will close for good.

“We are looking forward to, in a season or two, to be fully open again,” Lamke said.

Focusing on growth, hoping to keep tradition alive for years to come.

Lamke said there are about 8,000 trees growing on the farm– and trees can take anywhere between 8 and 12 years to grow to the perfect Christmas tree height.

The family said many of the trees should be ready for families in two or three years.