Phil and Donna Wheeler are the owners of Heavenly High Tree Farm, LLC in Sharon, VT. The Wheelers have owned their 150-acre Tree Farm for over 30 years. Phil and Donna said they operate a “different kind of tree farm” growing veneer trees which consists of predominantly maple trees along with some oak trees. Phil does a great deal of what he called “weeding of the forest” pruning individual trees, treating invasive plants he finds, and more.
Their tree farm is enrolled the Use Value Appraisal program. The property has a wildlife focus to it as they manage it in a way to encourage wildlife like deer, turkeys, and other kinds of birds. Recreation is also important to the Wheelers as they maintain snowmobile trails on the property and allow hunting. “We want to share the land with people and wildlife,” said Donna.
What does being a Tree Farmer mean to you?
Being a Tree Farmer means doing the proper things to manage a forest. Being a Tree Farm is not just about harvesting wood. There are other factors involved. It is being a responsible and educated landowner. We are only borrowing the land, and it is our job to manage it properly.
What do you value about the Tree Farm Program?
We value the educational opportunities the program provides like seminars and workshops. It is always interesting to learn what other people are doing.
Why should a landowner become a Tree Farmer?
Landowners should join because of the resources and community the program provides. We’ve benefitted from Tree Farm literature they publish in the past. It is encouraging to see what other tree farmers are doing and learning from eachother.
What advice would you offer to a Tree Farmer who is new to the program?
Get involved and network with other Tree Farmers. We have met helpful people in the past who were able to help us with activities on our land because they had done it on their land before.
What suggestions would you offer in how to get the next generation involved in Tree Farm?
This is a tough question as younger people seem less inclined to join service clubs and other volunteer-based organizations. Maybe outreach through digital sources like YouTube would be helpful.
Anything else you would like to add?
We are glad to be in Tree Farm. It feels good to do the right thing.