Ken grew up on his parent’s farm in south Mount Vernon. He had an interest in diversified agriculture at an early age, eventually going on to graduate from Washington State University with a degree in Agronomy. Ken spent many years engaged in the international seed trade before founding Chrishaven Trees in 1990.
Family is an important part of Ken’s life. Ken met his wife, Sue, at WSU and they have enjoyed 43 years of mostly blissful marriage. They have a daughter, three sons, and twelve grandchildren. Two sons are engaged in agriculture, with son Jay assisting at the nursery.
Ken shares a strong belief in the American Land Grant University System and the many benefits that agricultural research has brought to growers and their communities. He has been a strong supporter of Washington State University and its College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences through the commitment of time and resources in support of programming and scholarships. Most recently Ken and Sue have supported the Washington State University honey bee and pollinator research program as lead donors for the purchase of a new research farm in Othello, Washington. This new research facility will enable WSU to expand its role as the lead research institution in honey bee breeding, germplasm acquisition and storage, and development of improved systems to enhance overwinter survival and combat virus and mite levels in honey bee populations.
On the local level, Ken enjoys community involvement through his church and the Burlington-Edison Kiwanis Club. Hobbies include hunting, fishing, mountain climbing, and gardening.
Sue is co-owner of Chrishaven Trees and has been involved since its founding in 1990. Her leadership, personal relations skills, and business acumen has been a true asset to the nursery. Sue is a Washington State University Master Gardener, as well as a Certified Professional Horticulturist (CPH), and is knowledgeable on a diverse range of nursery and home garden topics. Her many years of experience working in the Master Gardener Plant Diagnostic Clinic has especially prepared her for dealing with the various diagnostic and physiological issues that one invariably encounters in a nursery environment.
Sue’s leadership and can-do attitude is well known in the community, both at the local and state level. She has served as founder and Director of Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland, WSU Skagit County Master Gardeners, and the Jean Thompson Guild of Children’s Hospital in Seattle. She is an excellent fund raiser and has chaired numerous charity auctions for the Skagit Valley YMCA, Immaculate Conception Regional School, St. Charles Church, and the Jean Thompson Guild. In 2005 Sue successfully chaired a $1.5 Million Capital Campaign to raise funds for the community portion of a $6 Million renovation project for the (WSU) Northwest Washington Research and Extension Center in Mount Vernon. Sue remains involved with various Washington State University initiatives, including student leadership opportunities and honey bee research.
Jay graduated from Washington State University 2004 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Minor in Horticulture. Upon graduation Jay moved to Seattle and worked in sales for 6 years before coming onboard fulltime with Chrishaven Trees in 2011. Today Jay heads the sales and marketing efforts for Chrishaven Trees. As our industry continues to evolve, Jay’s goal is to stay current and keep Chrishaven relevant with new product for our diverse clientele.
During the growing season, Jay assists in managing the crew and in plant production including planting, pruning/training, and pest management etc. In his spare time Jay enjoys spending time with family and various outdoor activities including hunting, fishing, and golf.
Sue and Ken met while attending Washington State University. After graduation, Ken joined his family’s firm, Alf Christianson Seed Company, which specialized in the research, production and marketing of vegetable seeds. He worked in all areas of the business, eventually assuming responsibility as President and CEO. He served in that capacity for 20 years. Alf Christianson had many international clients and during his trips abroad Ken enjoyed visiting several of the renowned gardens and arboretums of England and Japan. It was in this chance way that Ken developed a passion for the nursery industry.
In 1986, the couple purchased a small farm in Burlington, Washington. They planted their first seedling trees in 1990 and Chrishaven Trees was born! Since that time the business has tailored its plant assortment to meet the needs of a discerning clientele. Great care is given to field culture, pruning and training to provide trees of the best quality and health for clients. Through the nursery, Ken continues to exercise his interest in plant breeding and selection. Those species cultivated from seedlings allow ample opportunity for selection of superior forms. Ken is always on the lookout for that special new plant that may be of interest to the trade.
Our experience with Chrishaven Trees Company is one of high standards of tree quality and professional service with a personal touch. The folks at Chrishaven Trees work to supply excellent trees on budget and on time. I would recommend this company if you wish to have professional service and quality trees.