Rusty and Beau Estes, owners of Peak Farms, have earned the right to present an 18 1/2 foot Fraser fir to the White House for display in “The Blue Room.” The selected White House Christmas tree began its life from seed in 1990 when George H. Bush was President. There have been three additional presidents since that time and the tree is now 22 years old.
Rusty Estes has been involved in the Christmas tree industry since 1979, starting with only 200 trees in the ground and a retail lot in Lenoir, North Carolina. Rusty began growing Christmas trees on the side while working as a golf course superintendent in Avery county where he says, “the winters were tougher and the ground was harder.” Rusty owned a Christmas tree retail lot for 15 years before selling out and moving to Ashe County, North Carolina with his wife Ann and two children, Beau Estes and Katirie Estes.
Beau graduated from North Carolina State University in 2002, and started working in the golf course industry. Beau moved back to Ashe County in 2003 and began his full-time career in Christmas trees. He married Amanda Korevec, who now teaches 1st grade at Blue Ridge Elementary School. They have two sons, Colin Estes and Riley Estes.
Rusty and Beau have seen many changes in the Christmas tree industry, but one thing that remains the same is their dedication to education. Peak Farms collaborates with North Carolina Cooperative Extension who conducts research projects on their farm that have potential impacts, not only for them, but the entire industry. They also work to educate youth about Christmas trees. Every year local first graders make a trip to Peak Farms to learn about the benefits of Christmas trees. The children also place tags on harvested trees requesting the city and state of each buyer. The children then begin their mapping project showing where every tagged tree has been shipped. Students leave Peak Farms with their own tree that they can plant at their home.
“We haven’t done this on our own. We had a lot of help getting started with what to do, when to do, and how to do. We greatly appreciate everyone who has helped us along the way.” Rusty Estes, Peak Farms