By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
For Charles Holub, of Scotch Ridge Trees & Berries, diversity is “the lifeblood of a small farm.” His farm in Duanesburg is a case in point.
Scotch Ridge starts its season with the Saratoga Farmers’ Market selling seedlings started in its greenhouses for spring gardens. As spring shifts toward summer, cartons of berries, tomatoes, and bouquets of cut flowers become the primary crops. Summer folds into fall and then winter, and as December arrives, trees and handmade wreaths, door swags, and kissing balls make their appearance.
Holub was busy making wreaths last week in his workshop, a shed that serves as an entry point for berry pickers in the summer and cut-your-own tree visitors on weekends in December. An ice-coated pond and piles of greenery surrounded the shed. Inside, the spicy scents of Douglas fir, Scotch pine, white pine, blue spruce, and Frasier fir, a propane heater and soft stereo music system created a festive environment.
“My grandson was here last weekend,” Holub said. “He called it the Christmas place.”
Holub starts his wreaths with a handful of branches trimmed to size. He mixes varieties of greenery to achieve a diversity of color, texture, and smell and crimps them onto a frame, handful by handful. He adds sprigs of laurel and holly, and cones, ribbons, and continues to crimp until the circle is complete. All of the natural materials are gathered from his land or from the farms and yards of friends and family.
Holub grew up on the land he farms. The eldest of five children, he enjoyed a 35-year engineering career with New York State and retired at age 55. A few years before retirement, he began planning Scotch Ridge Farm. He planted his first trees around 1991 and began bringing them to market about 10 to 12 years later. Seedlings, berries, tomatoes and cut flowers followed as the operation grew.
Now, he plants about 1,000 trees a year. The trees take about 12 to 15 years to mature, and in the busy weeks of December, he makes about 30 wreaths a week.
“Farming is a risky venture,” he says, “Yet, there’s a great satisfaction in growing things and having success.”
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at the Lincoln Baths Building in Saratoga Spa State Park. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.