Tree Farmer of Year: Hanna Gamble takes up where her dad left off

Hanna Lucia Gamble’s father sowed the seeds of his daughter’s future when he taught his little girl how to plant pine trees on the family’s beloved DeSoto Parish land and enrolled her as a lifetime member of the Louisiana Forestry Association at the tender age of 9.

“My dad did a lot of molding,” Hanna said, as Jack Gamble Jr. made it plain to her “you are going to be a pine tree farmer.”

Though Jack died in 2013, Hanna has continued the family land stewardship legacy; she and her mother, Carol, co-own and manage the plantation, a set of contiguous, forested tracts that stretch across the parish from north to south.

At 28, Hanna oversees the 1,833-acre farm known as St. Lucia Plantation and is the 2017 selection for Louisiana’s Tree Farmer of the Year. Located about 20 miles west of Mansfield, in the heart of natural gas country in northwest Louisiana, the expansive tree farm sits between the communities of Logansport and Longstreet.

“It means the world to me that Hanna is my partner in this,” said Carol, who divides her time between New Orleans and St. Lucia Plantation. Although leaving the day-to-day work to her daughter, the mother and daughter share in decision-making.

“Our goals are so aligned,” Hanna said.

“This is what we envisioned when we started growing and nurturing this land,” her mother added, “hoping that she would embrace it.”

One area of the farm was planted the same year Hanna was born, meaning she and a group of her trees grew up together. Friends and school groups were frequent visitors to the farm during Hanna’s childhood, starting a tradition of sharing the land with others that continues today, as children are welcomed for recreational and educational outings.

The plantation is named in honor of the Italian Christian martyr, St. Lucia, as well as Hanna’s great-grandmother, Lucia McMichael Parry, whose family first owned land in 1893. But it was Jack Gamble’s father, Jack Sr., who started the tree farm his son enlarged and his granddaughter now continues to enhanc