Have you heard of Beavercreek Farms? It is a local English holly farm that was first established in 1939 in the Highland Butte area. In the early days, people across the country became acquainted with their holly trees and shrubs through the name Oregon Holly Company. In 1964, Jackson and Virginia Stalder thought running a holly farm would be a good thing to do in retirement so they purchased the farm, and renamed it Beavercreek Farms.
Today, their son Ken Stalder cares for and operates the holly farm as his parents once did. “We’ve been upgrading our farm activities, such as planting new trees and fertilizing existing trees,” said Ken. It is just one of a few remaining holly farms in the Northwest and has a rich history.
An initial planting of English holly (Ilex aquifolium) was made on the farm around 1939. Since then, the land’s caretakers – including the Stalders – have planted over 2,500 trees on 35 acres. Some of the original French-English holly trees are 70 years old and over 30 feet tall.
Trees are planted on 25-foot centers, which allows for ample air circulation and discourages natural pests and plant diseases. The farm includes many different varieties of berries and foliage. Like roses, many holly trees have been improved or grafted with newer and exciting varieties. John Inskeep, who early in his career was the Clackamas County Agricultural Extension Agent (and later an Oregon State senator) loved the farm and spent many hours there, grafting and hybridizing many varieties of holly. There are now about 26 varieties of holly in the orchard. One of the more recent additions is a Silver Queen variety with silver-edged green leaves, and the Harlequin with opposite leaf coloration.
In the early days, the farm’s packing operation took place in the two-room Old Highland School, and an old wooden shed, located across the road from the holly orchard. That parcel was sold off in the 1980s and the new owners converted the school house into their residence. The outside of their residence still retains some of the character of the old schoolhouse. The Beavercreek Farms operation then moved across the road. Virginia built a new packing shed that is now expanded into today’s 7,200 square foot packing facility at 22022 South Lower Highland Road that provides more comfort for their workers and better means to handle old and new ideas, and friends’ suggestions and requests.
In 1997, the farm joined with English Holly Packers – a well-established producer with a long list of satisfied customers – which resulted in an expanded product list with something for everyone and for every budget. Beavercreek Farms carries a range of hollies, holly totes, holly wreaths, table decorations and centerpieces, and more. Holly season begins in October and is in full swing from November to December. Ken said, “We’re always looking for local help during the holly season” though he cautions that it’s cold, wet work. Beavercreek Farms’ dedicated staff include many neighbors who have that “can do” attitude that is so helpful to a small business.
Ken, who was educated as a physicist and spent his career as a research scientist, is now expanding his interests to include holly farming and forestry. He is a member of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association. Aside from his enjoyment of golfing and traveling, he appreciates what Beavercreek has to offer with its scenic vistas, friendly neighbors, and the country lifestyle. The words he lives by are “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We couldn’t agree more, Ken.
Get decorating ideas and learn more about what Beavercreek Farms offers – and be sure to mark your calendars for holly season this year!
Article contributed by Jennifer Logan.