Farm History

History of the Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm  

 In 1965 Ed Gilden, a U.C. Berkeley Forestry professor, and his wife, Tee, began searching for an ideal location to start a Christmas tree farm in the East Bay. They found the perfect spot just north of Castro Valley in the picturesque East Bay hills on East Bay MUD property.  A lease was signed and the first planting of trees followed in February of 1967.  Sales of trees started in December of 1969, and the Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm became an immediate hit for families who wanted to enjoy a "woodsy" experience and cut down a fresh, quality Christmas tree.  In 1974 Paul Illingworth took over management of the farm and eventually, in 2004 upon Ed's retirement, he took over ownership of the farm.  The farm has changed over the 40+ years of operation, but we still strive to provide a high quality Christmas tree and a fun, outdoor experience for all our customers. 


Owner, Paul Illingworth, planting a pine seedling. We plant between 6,000 - 12,000 trees/year. Integrated pest management is used on the farm.


Farm Manager, Alejandro Padilla, cutting weeds. We cut the weeds we don't spray them. No insecticides are used on the trees.


If a customer leaves enough branches on a cut stump a new tree will form. This is called a "Turnup" and no seeding will be needed here.


Matt Sweeting shows how to spread chips around helping to control weeds and retain moisture. No irrigation, only natural rain water, is used on trees.


Alejando shows his artistry with a shearing knife. All trees are shaped at least one time each year and Monterey pines 2 times.


Another happy family finds the perfect tree. We have over 12 acres of trees and 7 varieties to choose from.


Cutting the tree is often a family affair. We supply the saw, so even the kids can help with the cutting.     


It's only a short trip to carry the tree to the car. We have 2 miles of gravel road that takes you very close to the trees.


Check out is fast and easy with our pleasant sales staff: Jizella, Caitlin Delaney (Sales Manager), & Laziah. Payment with check or cash is preferred but Credit Cards are OK.    


The finished product, decorated to perfection! If you keep your tree in a waterstand it will stay fresh all through Christmas.