Thirty years ago, a man by the name of Fred Rogers purchased fifty acres of land in Manalapan Township. The land was bought only to be an investment; the assumption was that the land, being located in rural central New Jersey, would only increase in value over time. Mr. Rogers' primary occupation was a printing company. Interestingly enough, his partner in the printing business was, at that time, unwilling to take a life insurance physical. This left Mr. Rogers searching for a way in which to protect his printing company in the advent of his partner's death. The decision was made to make mortgage payments towards the land investment in lieu of paying life insurance. As a result, if his partner were to pass away, the land would serve as "insurance," resulting in backup money.
Unusual as it may be, that was the beginning of the Anne-Ellen Christmas Tree Farm. Eventually it became clear that the land desperately needed to be cultivated in order to keep property taxes affordable. It was decided that Christmas trees should be grown. As Mr. Rogers was not a farmer by trade, two managers were found who would, from then on, plant and grow Christmas trees.
Growing trees was a time-consuming process. Land needed to be cleared, plowed, and fertilized before planting could begin. Weeds had to be kept under control so they would not smother the young seedlings. The small trees needed to be pruned and watched. It then takes a tree seven to twelve years to become ready for harvest depending on the variety of the tree and various other conditions. Weather, insects, and deer were also constant battles. Over the course of years, the farm was gradually planted... a field or two at a time. After much time, the farm was ready to be opened as a choose-and-cut operation for the Christmas of 1979. The farm, having been named for Mr. Rogers' two daughters, Anne and Ellen, was finally ready to sell trees.
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