Shawano County Farm Bureau members, Dan and Julie Hanauer own Hanauer’s Tree Farms LLP, a family-owned, award-winning grower of Christmas trees. The business specializes in selling wholesale trees, specifically evergreens.
The business started with Dan’s parents, Veronica and the late Dan Sr.
In 1957, when Dan Sr. graduated from UW-Madison with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in botany and horticulture, he did not envision starting a tree farm. In 1966 he and Veronica planted some Scotch pine Christmas trees on land acquired for a future home site. It was then Hanauer’s Tree Farms was born.
Through the years, the six Hanauer children worked with the trees. Countless hours were spent as a family shearing, mowing, fertilizing and doing other tasks. The first trees were ready for market in 1977. These trees were sold retail adjacent to a clothing store the Hanauer family owned and operated.
The original plot of trees had been gifted to Dan and his brother Dave with the agreement to maintain the trees and retain the profits for college expenses. When the brothers earned scholarships to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, the tree money was not needed for college and the decision was made to invest it in additional tree farms.
Once Dan completed his active duty obligation to the U.S. Army and transitioned to the U.S. Army Reserve, he joined his parents full-time on the farm.
“It worked out well,” Dan admitted. “I had about 10 years of military obligation and that’s how long it took the trees to mature.”
Under Dan Jr. and Julie’s management, the farm has grown to more than 500 acres.
“My dad taught me confidence,” said Dan. “He taught me to believe in what you do and don’t be afraid to promote yourself and the worth of your product.”
Through the years the couple has had to defend their prices.
Julie added, “What many people don’t understand is that there is a whole progression to these trees. It’s years of labor. You have to pay for that.”
The Hanauer’s trees are available as cut Christmas trees, container trees or balled and burlapped and they offer Balsam Fir, Fraser Fir, Canaan Fir, Colorado Spruce and White Pine.
“We believe in specialized diversity,” said Dan. “We specialize in evergreens but within that context, we offer the most diverse mix of carefully selected species, varieties and cultivars.”
They sell a lot of large trees and take a variety of special orders, including the large tree that sits in the center of the ice rink at Titletown in Green Bay.
While the business is mostly wholesale, meaning their busy times are the weeks leading into Thanksgiving, their ‘cut your own’ section opened Nov. 27. Traditionally known as ‘Black Friday’, Julie cleverly calls the day ‘green Friday.’
Julie said, “That is my favorite part. Everyone who comes is just so happy. We are part of family traditions.”
Julie noted that the entire family gets involved in the ‘cut your own’ portion including their son Jack and daughter Sophie.
Trees for Troops
Through the years the Hanauers have become involved in the nationwide Trees for Troops program. They, alongside other Wisconsin Christmas tree growers, donated real Christmas trees to the program that started in 2005.
This year the Hanauers donated 50 trees. During the last 16 years, they have donated 800 trees to the program.
“As a retired Army officer, the Trees for Troops program is near and dear to my heart,” said Dan. “We relish the fact that we can make the holidays a little brighter for those experiencing the stress of military life.”
Each year, according to their website, Trees for Troops collects between 15,000 to 17,000 real Christmas Trees from 27 states and delivers them to military families across the U.S., as well as soldiers serving overseas. The program is sponsored by the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association, the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation and FedEx Corp.
Dan added, “The cards and letters we receive from military families who get our trees are touching and heartwarming.”
Proud Farm Bureau Members
Longtime Rural Mutual Insurance customers, Dan and Julie have been Farm Bureau members for more than 25 years.
“Rural has always been really good to us,” said Dan. “We’ve been with the company for a long time.”
Julie added, “Our agents, Norb Stauber and Ben Albrecht treat us so well. Plus, I really like the member benefits. The discounts are nice.
Story originally appeared in the December | January 2020-2021 Rural Route. Story and photos by Amy Eckelberg.
Why Buy a Real Christmas Tree?
• Buying a real Christmas tree is an environmentally sound choice.
• Christmas trees are real, natural products.
• Christmas tree farms stabilize soil, protect water supplies and provide refuge for wildlife while creating scenic green belts.
• Often, Christmas trees are grown on soils that could not support other crops.
• A benefit to the atmosphere, Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide and other gases, emitting fresh oxygen. For every real Christmas tree harvested, two to three seedlings are planted.
• Real Christmas trees are an all-American product, grown in all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.
• Real trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and metals.
*Information taken from Wisconsin Christmas Tree Association (christmastrees-wi.org)