Not Far From the Tree–Angevine generations celebrate Christmas, family, and farm
Angevine Farm in Warren prides itself on helping families to make memories. It has been doing that since 1868 when John H. Angevine and his wife Mary C. Marsh began farming the land, which was then known as Marsh Homestead. The farm has had many incarnations—from dairy farming to tobacco, orchard products, pumpkins and, for the past 50 years, Christmas trees. Through it all, this has been a family affair, with eleven members from three generations overseeing the operations.
“I am fifth generation,” explains Lisa Angevine Bergs. “My children are sixth and we are all involved. We have so many ties to this farm and there are people from near and far who come back every season. They have become part of the Angevine family as well.”
Angevine Berg’s brother Timothy is the farm manager, overseeing all agricultural operations; his wife Carla makes baked goods and jellies that are sold in the Christmas Barn. Brother Scot has a full-time job at UPS but lends a hand on weekends and is the family chef; Jamie, his wife, supplies marketing and sales support and helps out in the Christmas Barn. Father John assists with farm operations as he passes the torch to the next generation. Lisa Angevine Bergs is marketing, sales, and event manager, while her husband Ansis builds whatever needs to be built and is the official holiday greeter. Their daughter Haley manages and merchandises the Christmas shop; son Jordan, a photographer by trade, hosts photo shoots and is a tree pruner and planter as well. “Our mother Kathy is our energizer bunny and is the heart of the farm,” says Angevine Bergs. “She assists wherever needed and knows everything.”
While the farm celebrates Halloween and Thanksgiving with various activities and items for sale, Christmas is a very special time. The Harvest Barn is transformed into the Wreath Factory and offers garlands, planters, and wreaths of all sizes, both mixed greens and boxwood. But the trees have center stage.
“My grandfather started planting trees in the early ’60s,” says Angevine Bergs. “And then he planted more. My parents realized it was something we liked to do. We now plant between 3,000 and 4,000 trees and harvest about 50 percent, due to various diseases that the trees encounter. With the changing climate and environmental issues we have had to assess and learn more about how to protect the crop.”
While there is much to see and experience at the farm, one of the main attractions is the famous organ that John Angevine installed center stage in the Christmas Barn. “The Robert Morton, three manual, ten rank, theater pipe organ was originally installed in the Capital Theater in Danbury in 1925,” Angevine Bergs explains. “The organ was purchased from the Danbury News Times, which owned the theater. After the flood of ’55 damaged the building, my father got the organ and moved it to the barn, with the help of many friends who thought he was crazy to undertake such a project. He is now 79 and still enjoys playing the organ for Christmas tree customers—people come by especially to hear him play.
Unfortunately, he is the only member of the family who plays. He started early with accordion lessons and has always loved music.”
As one might expect, family and farm work go hand in hand. Even in their spare time the Angevines are planning the next phase of activity. “We try to make work fun,” says Angevine Bergs. “Planting and the holiday season—it’s all hands on deck. We do get together a couple of times a month and they usually develop into planning sessions. But we always try to surround ourselves with good food, thanks to my brother Scot. He sets up a tent and a grill and cooks breakfast and lunch for the staff at Christmas time. He loves the planning and cooking and everyone else loves eating. It’s become another tradition in our family.”