Holiday traditions grow at Mistletoe Acres Tree Farm.By Judy Enright | Photography by Jack Foley
The tantalizing aroma of mulled cider and fresh-cut pine greets visitors at Mistletoe Acres Tree Farm in East Bridgewater. The family-run farm is a destination during the holiday season for South Shore residents in search of the perfect Christmas tree.
Children gallop down long grassy aisles edged by blue, white and Serbian spruces, Canaan and Fraser firs and balsams that stretch as far as the eye can see. And with little more than a handsaw and some elbow grease, a festive tradition is born.
The backstory behind Mistletoe Acres Tree Farm actually began on a cruise ship nearly a decade ago. Among the passengers was 20-something Megan Bryant from West Haven, Connecticut, who was traveling with friends when she spotted handsome Matt Krugger from West Bridgewater. “Watch,” she said to her friend. “This will be the one I marry.” True to her word, Bryant did just that—after finishing graduate studies at Southern Connecticut State University and moving to Massachusetts.
The couple dated for three years before deciding to buy rather than rent a house. They spent several months checking Google maps and driving around to visit appealing properties. One day, Matt stopped by a house with eight acres of land in East Bridgewater. The property was then known as Riverbank East Tree Farm and was advertised as a horse farm. Megan and Matt knew instantly that it was the perfect home for them and they made an offer. The very same month that they bought the farm, in December of 2012, the energetic young couple started selling Christmas trees off the land. They renamed the farm Mistletoe Acres.
“We wanted something reminiscent of Christmas and love and we also sell mistletoe so it just seemed right,” says Megan.
Since taking over the property, the couple have doubled the size of the original farm, planted an evergreen nursery and today have nearly 7,000 trees in various stages of growth. Now entering their fifth selling season, they continue to be passionate about their labor of love.
“Growing trees is more expensive than we thought it would be,” says Matt Krugger. “But farming is a way of life and we’re not in it for the money.”
Customers can stop by the holiday shop on the grounds to warm themselves by a wood-burning stove, sip hot chocolate and cider, nibble homemade ginger snaps (made using Matt’s mother Sally Krugger’s secret family recipe) and buy glass ornaments hand painted by Megan. The shop also sells evergreen swags, centerpieces, wreaths and roping, decorated and undecorated wreaths, including some that are shaped like candy canes.
“I’ve wanted to do this since I was 16,” says Megan. “I read about a tree farm in Vermont that had a horse-drawn sleigh and an inn for visitors. I have the farm and the sleigh, now all I need is the inn and the horse.”
During the week, Megan teaches 7th and 8th-grade science while Matt, a Wentworth grad, runs Krugger Construction, doing demolition, excavation, septic and site work. He hangs up his construction tools between Thanksgiving and Christmas when tree sales consume his time.
While Megan and Matt work their day jobs, Matt’s father, Rick Krugger, a former dairy farmer from upstate New York, tends the farm. Rick oversees the many thousands of trees at the farm, spending countless hours inspecting, trimming, shaping, fertilizing and watering. He also tests the soil, bags small trees in burlap to move them to better growing spots, and weeds and mows between the orderly rows.
Because the property is near a river and there is so much wildlife in the area, the Kruggers focus on using the most natural pesticides to protect their trees. Each spring, for instance, they release thousands of ladybugs and hundreds of praying mantises to decrease the number of pests that might harm the trees.
One of their more interesting and challenging tree varieties to grow, the Concolor Fir, smells like citrus when the needles are broken and has a distinctive glow when decorated with lights. This year, the farm offers several small evergreens (Serbian spruce and Canaan fir) root-balled and potted for customers to take home, decorate and enjoy inside and then plant outside when the holiday season is over.
Handsaws are provided at Mistletoe Acres for cutting down chosen trees, but the Kruggers and their many relatives and friends are always ready to help if needed. While most customers prefer to cut their own, the farm also offers precut balsam and Fraser firs that Rick says are so fresh they can last well into January without dropping needles.
Six to 8-foot trees are the most popular, but Mistletoe Farm also offers trees that are 10, 12 and 14 feet tall. “If people call and order ahead, we can get a 14 or 16-foot premium tree,” says Rick. The Christmas trees are wrapped and tied to make them easier to transport. Last year, Mistletoe Acres sold close to 1,150 Christmas trees.
Fall River resident Dennis Watkinson has donned a scarlet Santa suit and visited Mistletoe Acres every year since the farm opened. “He’s the best Santa around,” says Megan. “He’s the real deal.” This year, Santa will be visiting the farm on Sunday, Dec. 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Children are invited to meet Santa and families can take photos with the sleigh or with their chosen tree, further enhancing the festive holiday tradition.
296 Whitman Street, East Bridgewater
The tree farm is open daily from Nov. 25 to Dec. 23. You can cut your own tree or buy pre-cut trees
from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
Only pre-cut trees are sold from 4 to 7 p.m.
For more information, call 617-918-3941 or 704-998-9408.