DUMMERSTON -- There is more than the usual balsam fir, Canaan fir, white pine and blue spruce available for purchase at Elysian Hills Tree Farm.
In fact, the farm itself -- which hosts a popular Christmas-tree business -- is for sale through the Vermont Land Trust.
Owners Bill and Mary Lou Schmidt intend to remain residents of the Knapp Road property. But they've enlisted the land trust to locate a new owner and operator for the historic farm.
The first of two open houses is scheduled this Saturday, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. That also is expected to be one of the tree farm's busiest days of the holiday season.
"Anyone interested in buying the farm can look at the operation they've built," said Joan Weir, a Brattleboro-based regional director for the trust.
She added that, with a second open house planned for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 12, the land trust is working quickly to find someone to take over the 138-acre property.
"We're trying to expedite this process so a new farmer can get there in the spring," Weir said.
The Schmidts have been running their Christmas-tree business for 34 years; they now sell about 1,000 trees annually.
"We've got an incredible customer base," Mary Lou Schmidt said.
But their land is more than Christmas trees, the cultivation of which takes up about 16 acres. Elysian Hills also features about 100 acres of managed woodland, which includes 20 acres of sugarbush and a network of recreational trails.
Additionally, there is an acre of organic rhubarb and, according the land trust, five to six acres that are "organically certifiable" for other crops.
The Schmidts already have taken steps to ensure that the property is never developed commercially. All told, the farm consists of 138 acres of conserved land; trust administrators say the conservation easement "requires the land to perpetually remain a working farm engaged in agricultural, forestry, noncommercial recreational and educational uses.
While the tree business is going well, Mary Lou Schmidt -- who is the current president of the New Hampshire-Vermont Christmas Tree Association -- said she and her husband have for years been searching for successors.
"It's a fun business. We both really enjoy it," she said. "If we both weren't so worn out, we'd probably stay in it."
The Schmidts want to stay on the land: A "life estate" provision stipulates that they "intend to live at Elysian Hills through the remainder of their lives and plan to be buried in an existing cemetery on the farm," the land trust says.
The couple now wants to find someone else to work the land, however. After their talks with several potential owners fell through, the Schmidts asked the land trust to conduct a search for a buyer.
"They match up farmers with available farms, and they do a great job," Mary Lou Schmidt said.
The land trust has much experience in such matters. For example, the organization currently is working through the sale of Dummerston's Bunker Farm to a new group of owner/operators.
The proposed deal for Elysian Hills, however, is much different from the Bunker Farm transaction.
"We're not acquiring it. It's a property that's going to be sold to a new couple," Weir said. "We're just, I think, providing a helping hand here."
The land trust is offering the property for sale through its Farmland Access Program.
In addition to the upcoming open houses, during which prospective buyers can get a first-hand look at the Elysian Hills operation, there is much information -- including maps and a request for proposals -- at a web page set up for the sale, www.vlt.org/elysian.
In addition to details about the land, the trust lists several buildings on the farm:
-- A two-story, 1,800-square-foot cape house built in 1791. There is an attached, 160-square-foot greenhouse.
-- 1,296-square-foot manufactured ranch house built in 2006.
-- 3,360-square-foot barn dating to 1941 with two wings added in 1963, one with horse stalls.
--2,500-square-foot office/garage/shop building built in 1965.
-- Woodshed and "corn-crib" building.
The asking price for the farm will be based on an appraisal that is supposed to be complete by mid-December. The land trust notes that the Schmidts also are looking to sell farm equipment and the Christmas-tree business, which includes customer lists; website and marketing information; wreath-making equipment, and "34 years of customer goodwill and satisfaction."
The Schmidts are willing to help the new farm owners with the transition.
"We're looking for a young couple who will come in and take over and further diversify," Bill Schmidt said.
Only serious inquiries are requested. The land trust calls it a "competitive process" and requires offers with financial documentation, a land-use plan, qualifications and other information.
Anyone interested can log onto the land trust's website or contact Jon Ramsay at 802-533-7705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Offers are due by Jan. 17.
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.