Gerry family enjoys creating Christmas experienced

Submitted photo The Krenzer Family is pictured inside their Christmas Shop after a day of cutting trees in the rain.

To say this is a very busy time of year for the Krenzer Family is an understatement.

Dan Krenzer, a seventh grade science teacher at Falconer Central School, has a passion for his unplanned second job. When he and his wife, Christine, who teaches kindergarten at Sinclairville Elementary School, purchased their Gerry home 20 years ago, they hadn’t given a thought to growing trees. The house came with 5 acres of lawn, which Mr. Krenzer had no intention of mowing. Knowing this, his wife suggested he plant trees like her uncle in Dayton had done.

After getting tips from the uncle, Mr. Krenzer got started by getting some trees from the county Cooperative Extension Agency. At that time, he had no intention of selling the trees, but thought he may use them for his family’s Christmas trees. After 10 years, he decided to put a sign by the road and began selling a few trees. His family planted 100 more each year, until most of the acreage was full.

In recent years he has started another 5-acre tree lot on Route 62 near Ellington. He cuts these trees to take to his Hanson Road property. The trees grown near his home are sold for U-Cut and some are used to paint. The purple, white and blue painted trees are not in great supply due to the weather conditions having to be just right and the surrounding trees must to covered to avoid overspray. Between the two lots, he currently has about 2,000 trees in different stages from 6-inches to 15-feet, as well as a few trees that measure as tall as 18-feet.

“There are good characteristics to all trees,” he said when referring to the eleven varieties grown on his properties. “Some of the varieties are more attractive to deer. If you plant 50 fir trees and the deer eat them, plant something different or put up a fence. Deer don’t touch spruce trees.”

Submitted photo The Krenzer Family Tree Farm is truly a family business. Pictured, from left, are Joseph, Augustine, Danielle and Dan Krenzer as they set up a tree for this week’s fresh cut and U-Cut opening.

The farm offers blue, white and Norway spruce for U-Cut, as well as red, white and Scotch pine. The fir trees, which include Fraser, Canaan, Balsam, Korean and Turkish, are only sold as pre-cut trees.

“When people buy trees from places that sell pre-cut trees, they are usually cut before November first and set up the week before Thanksgiving,” said the teacher.

His family cuts a few trees a couple of days ahead of opening to do the initial set-up, but then he analyzes what is needed at the end of each day and takes the kids to the lot the next morning at the crack of dawn.

“When I am asked how old the trees are, I take a look at my watch.”

The father of four stresses the farm is a family business, because all of his children help in whatever way they can.

“Joseph is 18. He’s the muscle. He runs the chainsaw and does everything I can do. Danielle is 16. She is a workhorse and is very business-minded,” he said. “Augustine is f14. She’s my people person and the best salesperson. Theodore is 11. He’s an entertainer, very energetic and not always focused on work, but he may take a customer’s child on the sled. He also tends to get the most tips.”

All of the children attend Falconer Central School, with this being Joseph’s last year.

“We have a ball doing this as a family. My kids never complain, so I give my credit to my family.”

A few teachers from his school volunteer when it is time to cut the trees.

“Some of the guys even bring their own pick-up trucks to haul the trees,” he said. “I’m surrounded by some very good people.”

Owners of tree lots and garden centers have contacted Krenzer asking if he could supply trees for them.

“I would love to go big, but the debt isn’t worth it. We have never borrowed money for the business. We use the money from our jobs to support it,” he states, “We can sell for whatever price we want because of no overhead. This means instead of planting 15,000 trees, we’re planting 300. I don’t pay the mortgage with trees. This is something extra we do. Because of this, we can sell trees cheaper.”

He uses older equipment and repairs it as needed, which has enabled him to learn how to do that.

“We’re not in it for the money. We want to help people enjoy Christmas,” Christine Krenzer said.

“We sell the experience. We don’t necessarily just sell the tree,” he saud. “People come here. They leave with a smile and they come back.”

The tree procurement experience begins as the customer drives up the snow people-lined driveway. A short distance away is a corral where a herd of wooden deer await. Mrs. Krenzer runs the shop, which was built by Mr. Krenzer, his father and father-in-law. She sells her in-law’s maple syrup, a friend’s knitted hats and other gift items. There is a table dedicated to Nolan’s Nest, where handmade soaps, lip balm, wax melts, lotions and many more products made by a young man with cerebral palsy and his mom are sold. Children can make a small wooden deer for a fee. Wooden snow people, wooden deer and wreaths are sold, as well. Christmas tree farm coloring books, crayons and candy canes are given to the children who visit the shop. Her husband plans to have a wooden toy shop ready within the next few years and hopes to offer adult wreath-making classes one day.

Saws are provided for U-Cut or the customer may bring their own. The family will assist in whatever way is needed or be hands off. Mom’s with small children often appreciate help. Elderly or handicapped persons sometimes remain in their cars while the tree they are seeking is brought to them. Netting is offered to make it easier to get large trees through doorways. They will drill trees for customers who have a tree stand with a pin for quick and easy set-up. These frustration-saving stands, with large built-in reservoir, are sold in the shop.

Fall and early winter isn’t the only busy season in the Christmas tree business. Trimming and shaping the trees consumes a lot of Dan Krenzer’s time, but with his profession, he is able to do this job throughout his summer break from the classroom.

“It’s different than what I do on a daily basis, so I don’t get tired of it.”

Girl Scout troops have come to the Krenzer farm when working on badges. They are given a tour, get an explanation about how it works and make a craft. Mr. Krenzer enlists the help of his father and his wife’s uncle, who are both teachers, to help with this.

Even though the family is enjoying what they do now, the educator expects it will most likely end with him. He is one of the youngest persons in attendance at Christmas tree conventions and fully expects the business will end when the day comes when he decides to call it quits.

Mrs. Krenzer proudly shares three recipes that have been passed down in her family, beginning with her great-grandmother’s recipe for Chicken Broccoli Casserole.

The Krenzer Family Tree Farm is located at 2320 Hanson Road in Gerry.

Chicken Broccoli Casserole (serves six)

5-6 small chicken breasts

2-10 oz pkgs frozen broccoli, cooked

3 cans cream of chicken soup

1/2 c Miracle Whip or mayonnaise

8 slices Velvetta cheese

1/3 stick butter

crushed corn flakes (enough to cover 9-inch by 13-inch pan)

Cook chicken and cut into small bite-sized pieces. Place in 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Cover with broccoli. Place about 8 slices of cheese on top. Combine soup and Miracle Whip in separate bowl and then spread over cheese layer. Melt butter and toss with prepared corn flakes. Sprinkle over soup layer. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 50-60 minutes or until bubbling.

Christmas Stew

2 lbs stew meat

1 small-medium onion

1box mushrooms

1 can peas and carrots

1/4 tsp garlic powder

3/4 c red wine (hearty burgundy)

salt and pepper to taste


Brown meat, onion and mushrooms in small amount of butter. Put in casserole dish or roaster. Add peas and carrots. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over canned vegetables. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Serve over hot noodles.

Wilted Lettuce

Dark green lettuce leaves

Sugar, small amount

1 pound bacon

Cider vinegar

Wash lettuce and sprinkle sugar on leaves immediately after, to lightly coat. Fry bacon and crumble. Set aside. Pour a small amount of bacon grease on lettuce. Pour vinegar on lettuce to coat. Add crumbled bacon.


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