History of the Farm – “Dig Your Roots”

Krueger’s Christmas Tree Farm is a family-run tree farm located in Lake Elmo, MN.  Although the business is currently a growing operation its roots have more humble beginnings.

The Lumber Mill Days

The Krueger family has operated the business at Stillwater and Lake Elmo locations over its lifetime.  These two towns are located in the east-central part of Minnesota, along the Minnesota and Wisconsin border.  This area is commonly called the Saint Croix Valley. 

At the end of the 19th century, the Saint Croix Valley was a logger’s haven.  Lumber mills and yards were located up and down the Saint Croix River.  The lumber industry was drawn to the vast expanses of timber in the area.  These resources, couple with their proximity to a natural shipping channel via the river, created a booming industry.  However, the seemingly endless forests soon disappeared.  The shortage of trees signified the end of the lumber era in this area.

A Business is Born

Over the next several decades, agriculture was the primary industry.  Land that was recently cleared by loggers was converted into farmland.  By the 1930’s, over-farming, combined with years of drought, created massive erosion issues.  To alleviate the problem, the Krueger family began to plant trees on their 100 acre farm in Stillwater. 

Al and Elaine, along with their 5 young children, planted numerous pines to prevent erosion and promote reforestation.  The trees grew naturally for the next several years.  As they grew larger, many of them need to be thinned.  The Krueger’s began to give some of the trees away to friends and neighbors.  Soon people began to offer them money for the trees.  From these humble and naive beginnings the business was born.

The Farm Grows

The business, now called Krueger Tree Farm, continued to grow throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s.  The farm became known throughout the Twin Cities metro area as a place for high-quality trees, a working tree farm atmosphere, and excellent customer service.  In the early 1980’s, Al retired from his full-time job and focused solely on the tree business.  At the same time, his oldest son, Neil, and his family purchased a family farm 3 miles away in Lake Elmo. 

This farm held significance for the Krueger’s because it had been owned and farmed by the Krueger family since 1916.  Neil’s family, which included his wife Deb and children Amy and John, began to plant trees on the new farm instead of food crops and livestock.  They named the farm Sprucegate Farm.

Throughout the 1980’s, Krueger Tree Farm remained successful, while at the same time the trees at Sprucegate Farm continued to grow.  By the early 1990’s, Al and Elaine began to plan for their exit from the business.  Encroaching development, age, and health concerns prompted them to sell the farm.  At roughly the same time, Sprucegate Farm in Lake Elmo began to harvest and sell Christmas trees for the first time in 1992. 

Despite attempts to convert as many of the old customers to their new location, the business began slowly.  Over the next decade, Sprucegate farm established its own identity and began to grow and expand.  They maintained the same business model of quality trees and excellent customer service.  They also offer the option of choose-and-cut to their customers in addition to pre-cut trees.  In 2007, the Krueger’s changed their name from Sprucegate Farm to Krueger’s Christmas Tree Farm.  The new name more accurately described the farm and business.

The Krueger Farm Today

Krueger’s Christmas Tree Farm has now been selling trees for over 70 years.  The family is taking steps to preserve the farm from development and ensure that it will remain an open space.  Neil and Deb’s son, John, is now full-time owner in the business and plans to continue operating the farm well into the future.  This represents the 3rd generation of tree farming in the Krueger family.  And recently the 4th generation have arrived are beginning to learn the ropes (starting as “branch” managers, of course).  We hope you can start or continue to share your annual Christmas tree buying experience with us for years to come!