An invitation to Walk in the Woods with Chester tree farmers

Jim and Ellie Gustafson of Dodge Road in Chester will be hosting Walk in the Woods: 50 Years of Stewardship and 40 Years of Tree Farming from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4. Everyone is invited to attend this morning of tours, stories and refreshments.

From left, Jim and Ellie Gustafson on their Tree Farm property. Photo provided.

From left, Jim and Ellie Gustafson on their Tree Farm property. Photo provided.

The Gustafsons began tree farming when Jim was a young minister and the couple lived in a church-owned parsonage on minimal salary with a yearly salary of about $3,600.

They bought property and signed up for the Timber Stand Improvement program, and thus began what they call their “long venture as tree farmers.” They worked with many  county foresters and forestry guides Don and Nina Huffer pruning, thinning and logging. They also made maple syrup and cut firewood.

“We’re still at it, having recently completed our largest logging, harvesting roughly 208,000 board feet,” the couple says, adding, “Please come and help us celebrate our long commitment as good stewards of our land.”

The program will take place rain-or-shine, and will require some walking.

9 a.m. Meet and greet and refreshments.
9:30 a.m.  Welcome by Ellie and brief overview of Tree Farm involvement
9:45 a.m. What is Tree Farming?
10 a.m. Tours and activities include:

• Long walk (1.5 miles): through part of recent logging job to proposed site of  grandson Glen’s sugarhouse. Mostly road but may involve some rough-ground trekking.
• Medium walk (0.75 miles): Upper Crust spur to deer trail and back to camp.
• Short, easy walk (0.25 miles): Main road on the flat to view patch cut logging.
• Stay at camp: woods activities, chat with foresters.

Noon: Lunch (bring your own and a lawn chair; The Gustafsons will add a bit).

During and after lunch Jim, Ellie, family, and foresters (Don and Nina Huffer, Rich Root and John Adler) will tell stories about their experiences. Jim and Ellie Gustafson will “interview” their children and grandchildren about what tree farming has meant to them. The day will end with brief readings from Wild Harvest and Paul Bunyan, and gifts from the Gustafsons.

Directions: Use your GPS or atlas to get to the town of Chester. Route 35 is on the eastside of the town center, adjacent to Chester Hardware. Do not follow your GPS to Dodge Road. You must go south via Route 35. After 1.5 miles, watch for Popple Dungeon Road on the right. Then, after 1.3 miles, watch for a red house on a bend to the left. Directly across, turn right onto a dirt road. The Dodge Road sign is gone, but 30 miles per hour sign is there. You’ll see balloons and a sign. A quarter mile or so, near the top of the hill, look for Tree Farm signs on the driveway to the left. Park along the road.

Pre-registration is not required but appreciated. Please visit, send email to, or call 802-747-7900.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeIn the Community

About the Author: This item was edited from one or more press releases submitted to The Chester Telegraph.

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