Pull into the enchanted driveway at Camelot Christmas Tree Farm and you’ll be greeted with a friendly smile and “hello” by Bob Faivre. It’s his special post during the Christmas tree sales season. After a brief chat, Bob will direct you around the family farm to choose and cut your own evergreen tree. He’s got about 40,000 trees growing on his farm southeast of DeKalb. He grows nine different varieties of Christmas trees – five types of firs (Caanan, Douglas Balsam, Frasier, Concolor), two types of spruces (White, Blue) and two types of pines (White, Scotch). Bob’s favorite is the White Pine, known for its soft needles and branches.
When people choose Camelot Farm to make their Christmas tree selection, they come for the family experience, says Bob. “It’s a happy day when people come here. Families spend hours looking for the perfect tree,” explains Bob. “They won’t remember the size or type of tree, but they will remember the experience.” He continues, “They remember the kids helped find and mark the tree. They remember Dad carrying a little one on his shoulders. They recall the snow being a foot deep. They take a picture by their tree. Those are what families remember from coming here.”
The family-friendly setting is important to the Faivre family who insist that their business not become commercialized. The Faivres have established one price for any Christmas tree and with that you get hours of family entertainment on the farm. The Faivre family provides the saw, shakes the tree to remove loose needles, bales the tree for ease of transporting, and lends assistance as needed. A stop at the Christmas shop (a converted chicken coop) to pay for the tree also provides warmth, free hot chocolate or coffee, plus delicious homemade cookies. The Faivres bake 7,000 oatmeal cookies for their customers to enjoy over the 24 days they are open for business. At Camelot Farm, families get to know the Faivres who own and run the 25-acre tree farm. This year marks their 21st season for selling Christmas trees.
All in the Faivre Family Bob Faivre manages the tree farm with the support of his wife, Vicki, who has a full-time job at the DeKalb
County Health Department. Bob and Vicki rely on family members to help with the Christmas trees, from planting to harvest. Their adult children, Landon, Colette and Jacob, have been involved since they were young. They acknowledge that profits from the tree farm covered the cost of their college educations.
Landon earned a B.S. in agribusiness, farm and financial management from the University of Illinois and an MBA from NIU. He currently is lead director of agribusiness banking at Castle Bank, DeKalb. Landon and his wife, Colleen, have two daughters, Ansley and Corrine. Ansley, the eldest of Bob and Vicki’s grandchildren, now helps with planting trees and in the Christmas shop. Colette attained a B.A. in early childhood education from Illinois State University and a M.A. in curriculum and instruction from Concordia
University. She taught elementary education at Kaneland. She and her husband, Jeff Weese, have three young children, Onalee, Cora and August.
Jacob earned a B.S. in criminal justice at Illinois State University. He also served for four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, with two tours in Iraq, completing his duty as a Sargent. Now, Jacob works in the corn breeding division of Monsanto in Waterman.
Other family members who help at the tree farm (yet hold full-time jobs) are Bob’s brother, Bryan, and sister-in-law, Cathy Faivre. Add several nephews and cousins to the family mix and all told there are about 22 among the work force.