For Dan and Jeri Hager, growing and selling Christmas trees is a labor of love that has brought them some unexpected rewards.
The couple fulfilled a dream when they first opened Hager Tree Farm, located six miles east of Charleston, in 2004. After years of hard work, the tree farm has grown beyond their expectations. It has become a popular destination for area families seeking fresh-cut Christmas trees and a little holiday cheer. “Not only do we get to experience families reconnecting at the holidays, but our families come out to work and that has been a reward we didn’t see coming,” Dan Hager said.
The tree farm has also brought the Hagers closer to their community. Grateful for the support that has helped make the tree farm a success, the couple agrees that one of their greatest joys is having the opportunity to give back.
For the past four years, the Hagers have donated live trees, wreaths, and greenery to Sarah Bush Lincoln’s Festival of Trees, in support of the new Regional Cancer Center. “We’ve been blessed,” Dan Hager said. “If you can turn that around and pay it back, there’s a tremendous joy in giving. Sarah Bush Lincoln is such an asset to our community. This is really an easy way for us to help,” he said.
“I think sharing the Christmas spirit is what Dan enjoys most about the business,” his wife added. Hager admits he is especially touched to see everyone laughing and smiling when they visit the tree farm. In fact, that’s what gave him the bug to start the Christmas tree farm in the first place. “I worked on a Christmas tree farm years ago in Macomb and everyone that came out was in a good mood and greeted each other with ‘Merry Christmas,’” he said.
The Hagers add new features to the tree farm each year. “We don’t do it for the bottom line. I think any tree farmer would agree it becomes a passion. And giving back just goes hand-in-hand with Christmas. It’s just something we love doing.” Hager said.
“We are extremely grateful for the Hagers generosity. Their donation allows us to offer quality, fresh trees and greenery to festival-goers and enhances the Festival,” SBL Health Foundation Special Events Coordinator Kim Lockart said. The Hagers have donated 24 six- and- eight foot Fraser Fir trees, eight four-foot table top trees as well as fresh wreaths, candy canes, crosses and centerpieces, which will all be available for purchase during the two-day festival.
In addition, Hager Tree Farm has donated several items for the live auction including a seven-foot live tree, titled “May your Days be Merry and Bright,” and a large wreath, titled “Over the River and Through the Woods,” designed by Pam Waddell, Hager Tree Farm decorator.
Included in the silent auction, the Hagers are donating a decorative rocking chair for the front porch, designed by Waddell and titled “Home for the Holidays.” Their donation of a five-foot live tree will be decorated in a “Little Lumber Jack” theme by designers Gayle Patrem, Jan Davis and Karen Huffmaster and sponsored by Shade Shifters Tree Service.
The tree farm also gives back by offering great fundraising opportunities to many local organizations. “We feel very blessed and it’s nice to be able to share a little Christmas spirit with others,” Hager said.