The barn has been home to Robin Warner and Helen Welford for more than twenty years.
During that time, we have gradually planted more and more trees and converted a farm used to grow corn and soybeans to a tree farm and native grasses.
In 1999, I was 55 years old and the idea of starting a project that would last beyond my retirement for several decades seemed like a good one. I started by planting one acre of genetically superior Walnuts selected for timber quality and in 2000 another acre of Black Cherries.
Since then we have managed 15 acres of forest that have been here longer than we have, planted several more acres of timber, and added 16 acres of CRP land which attempts to re-create the Oak Barren that was here when the first Europeans arrived early in the 19th century.
Along the way, I started planting White Spruce trees between the hardwoods to help the hardwoods grow straight and reduce epicormic sprouting. This got me started in the nursery business which has turned out to have a much shorter product cycle that complements the 40 to 80-year timber growth cycle.
In late 2007 and early 2008, three things happened that led to the more intensive nursery operation that we are running now.
First I retired from my part-time day job and therefore had substantially more time to devote to trees, and second I was introduced to the RootMaker® System of growing trees for the purpose of successfully transplanting them in a few years to a new permanent location, the goal of nursery tree production. Third, we started using the name Dexter Tree Farm.