Jesse and Molly Jimerson have to pinch themselves each morning when they wake up at their new home at Piper Mountain Christmas Trees in Newburgh.
The couple, who had spent years looking for a place to buy in Maine so they could be closer to family on the East Coast, stumbled across the listing for the Christmas tree farm late last year, after previous owners Mac and Anne McCullen put the property up for sale.
It was fate, said Molly Jimerson, 33, who said she came across the listing while “doom scrolling” Maine real estate listings online. They closed on the property on March 1, got in their camper and drove to Maine from their home state of Nevada, arriving just a few weeks ago.
“It still doesn’t feel real, that we own this place. I go outside, and it’s just totally idyllic. It’s like a dream,” she said. “And it’s going to be a lot of work, too. But that’s part of why we knew this place was right.”
The 185-acre tree farm, a holiday season destination for Bangor-region residents since founders Jim and Norma Corliss opened it 44 years ago, is more than just a new home for the couple and their son James, who is nearly 3, and two dogs, Mac and Titus. It’s a chance for them to take an already successful and popular family business and make it their own.
“With her brains, and the fact that I’m a total workaholic, I think we have the right combination of skills,” Jesse Jimerson said. “It’s exactly what we want for our family.”
Piper Mountain, founded in 1978, started as just a few acres of balsam firs planted by the Corlisses. By the 1990s, it was one of the largest tree farms in eastern Maine, with 30 acres of both cut-your-own and pre-cut trees, and wreaths and gifts sold out of its onsite gift shop. One of its trees even made it to the White House during the George W. Bush administration.
Clockwise from left: James Jimerson, 2, runs through Christmas trees with his dog Mac at Piper Mountain Christmas Trees in Newburgh on Wednesday; Jesse and Molly Jimerson recently purchased Piper Mountain Christmas Trees in Newburgh; The couple say they feel like they are living a dream. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN
The Corlisses retired in 2019 and sold the farm to the McCullens, who then sold it to the Jimersons last month. The new owners have already met a number of the farm’s seasonal employees, as well as its neighbors down the road in Newburgh, like Nettie Fox Farm and Rocky Ground Cider.
“Employees that have worked here for 30 years have come by to say hello and told us this is their happy place,” Molly Jimerson said. “We feel a lot of responsibility to do this right, and for the families that have been coming here for generations to get a tree.”
That said, the couple does have a lot of ideas about diversifying the farm, which sees nearly all of its business within a tight one-month window between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The Jimersons made a huge list of potential ideas for new things they can bring to the business. An Oktoberfest celebration featuring local breweries is one of them — Jesse won a yodeling contest at an Oktoberfest back in Nevada, so he’s keen to maintain his hollering chops. He also makes a mean burrito, and is considering making big batches of them in the winter to sell to snowmobilers using the popular trails that run across their property.
But most of those things will happen far down the line. Their top priority right now is to learn the ropes of the Christmas tree business, and the particulars of growing trees — something both sets of previous owners are assisting them with. Molly studied journalism and agriculture in college, though she worked in public relations for years, and Jesse has worked in a variety of fields including ranching, farming and construction, though carpentry is his primary field.
“We always want to stay true to what Piper Mountain is, which is Christmas trees,” Molly Jimerson said.
The only new thing they’ve started so far is around 150 pumpkin seedlings, with plans to offer a pick-your-own pumpkin patch this fall. They hope to continue to host a handful of weddings each year as well.
“I think there’s just so much potential here,” Molly Jimerson said. “This is just the beginning.”