Millbank Metro Business of the Month - Schalke Family Tree Farm
Local Business - Announcements
Written by Millbank Daily-Weekly   
Friday, 06 December 2013 16:32

MILLBANK – The Schalke family has resided in Millbank for three generations and knows what Millbank residents look for in their Christmas trees.

“A little on the stumpy and skinny side, not too leany, but most importantly, NO CHIPMUNKS!” says Martin Schalke, the living patriarch of the tree farming clan. To this day, the Schalke Family Tree Farm has kept their pledge to sell only chipmunk-free trees throughout the Tri-City area.

Martin’s father Georg began the tree farm in 1919 when he was unable to grow corn, soybeans or wheat successfully on his craggy 30 acres on the outskirts of Millbank. Old Georg Schalke sold his cow Flora in return for dozens of Norway spruce, white pine and Douglas fir seedlings, which he then planted and tended with care.

“I think he felt put out when some of the townspeople suggested that he cut them down and sell them for Christmas trees,” explains Martin Schalke, 78. “He thought that his land would become an attraction in itself, sort of a forest theme park. Unfortunately, the trees stayed pretty dinky because the soil wasn’t so great here. People don’t want to have a picnic or go camping in a forest where you can actually see over the trees.”

Even to this day, the oldest trees on the farm measure only about six feet tall, and many lean or bend in a rather disturbing fashion. Martin Schalke, his son Troy and his daughter-in-law Vanessa spend their days cultivating and inspecting their arboreal crop. “Sometimes,” says Vanessa Schalke, “we spend entire days just trying to weed out the really pathetic trees from the lot before the customers see them and get scared.”

Millbank residents have become accustomed to the Schalke style of tree, however. Marie Fenword, 84, said, “Once, I thought I’d buy a big bushy Chesterburgh Point tree, and I brought it home and put it up. What do you know, when I was putting the tinsel on, a CHIPMUNK jumped right out of the branches. Almost got my eyes! I knew I’d go back to Schalke’s after that, what with their NO-CHIPMUNK guarantee.”

The Schalke family keeps mum about how they maintain that famous NO-CHIPMUNK guarantee. Vanessa Schalke would only say, “Let’s just say that we don’t see a whole lot of wildlife out here, but if that’s what keeps our customers happy, we’re happy, too.”

Schalke’s Tree Farm is located on Route 73, just north of the Indian burial grounds and the illegal waste dump. Hours of operation in November and December are Monday-Friday 4:30 pm – 8:00 pm and Saturday-Sunday 9 am – 8:00 pm. This Saturday from 1 pm – 4 pm, the kiddies can have their pictures taken with Santa Claus and Stumpy the Tree.

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