Home > News > Press Releases > 2009 > AGRICULTURE SECRETARY MARKS BEGINNING OF ‘CHOOSE AND CUT’ CHRISTMAS TREE SEASON IN NJ
AGRICULTURE SECRETARY MARKS BEGINNING OF ‘CHOOSE AND CUT’ CHRISTMAS TREE SEASON IN NJ
Urges Consumers to Visit NJ Christmas Tree Farms this Holiday SeasonFor Immediate Release: December 1, 2009
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(MENDHAM BOROUGH) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher officially kicked off the ‘choose and cut’ Christmas tree season today by cutting down a tree at Hidden Pond Tree Farm in Mendham.
“Wherever you live in New Jersey, there is a Christmas tree farm close by to get the freshest, highest quality tree, while also enjoying a memorable day out with your family,” said Secretary Fisher. “By purchasing a Christmas tree from a New Jersey farmer, you are helping our state’s family farms remain viable and the agriculture industry to thrive, which has a direct impact on the health of the state’s economy.”
It has been a tradition that New Jersey’s Secretary of Agriculture visits the farm with the Grand Champion Christmas tree in the New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association annual contest. Hidden Pond Farm’s Norway spruce, grown by Chris Nicholson, earned the title this year.
Secretary Fisher cuts the tree as Chris Nicholson looks on
“This is our second year selling Christmas trees on this beautiful piece of property,” said Nicholson, who leases the 50-acre farm. “We grow Norway spruce almost exclusively since they are hardy trees that thrive without the use of pesticides.”
When Nicholson started the farm 10 years ago, he was new to farming. He said when they opened to the public last year, they were visited by local residents as well as those from as far away as New York City. He said they try to make it a warm, family experience by providing free hot cocoa and hayrides.
Nicholson donated the tree cut down by Secretary Fisher to the Market Street Mission in Morristown, where it will be displayed for those visiting the mission to enjoy. The Mission houses the homeless and serves breakfast and dinner to its residents and the hungry in the community. Last year, more than 60,000 meals were served and more than 3,000 nights of emergency shelter were provided to those in need. People visiting the Mission also are offered rehabilitation services.
Left to Right: Heidi, Chris and Emma Nicholson, Secretary Fisher, G. David Scott of Market Street Mission, and Morris County Freeholders Margaret Nordstrom and James Murray
‘Choose and Cut’ Christmas tree farms are part of New Jersey’s year-round agritourism industry, along with ‘pick-your-own’ fruit and vegetables, wineries, on-farm educational tours and programs, hay rides and crop mazes.
The 2007 U.S. Census of Agriculture ranked New Jersey sixth in the nation in the number of Christmas tree growers. Of New Jersey’s 10,327 farms, 1,150 grew cut Christmas trees on 6,314 acres. Those New Jersey farmers provided more than 78,000 families with Christmas trees.
Christmas tree growers in New Jersey may participate in the Jersey Grown program, which allows farmers to tag their trees with the Jersey Grown brand to easily identify that their Christmas trees are grown in New Jersey. Jersey Grown includes quality standards and is similar to the well-known Jersey Fresh branding program for produce and other agricultural products.
Growers also are encouraged to add their farms to the state’s agritourism web site, www.visitnjfarms.org. There, they can list information about their farm, including items for sale, hours of operation, directions, and special events.
The New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers’ Association, organized in 1950, is a statewide organization of growers, professionals and industry leaders dedicated to the promotion and marketing of Christmas trees and related products.
To locate a choose-and-cut farm near you, visit the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov or the New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers’ Association’s website at www.njchristmastrees.org. For more information about Christmas trees, log on to the National Christmas Tree Association’s website at www.realchristmastrees.org.
Here are some tips when selecting and caring for a real Christmas tree:
- Dress accordingly when shopping for a tree. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes or boots for walking.
- Select a tree that best fits your needs. Consider your ceiling height as well as the weight of your ornaments when determining the size and type of tree you choose. Remember that in the field, the sky is the ceiling, making trees appear smaller than they actually are.
- Do a freshness test. Gently grasp a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward you. Very few needles should come off. Shake or bounce the tree on its stump. An excessive amount of green needles shouldn’t fall to the ground. Some loss of interior brown, yellow or tan needles is normal.
- If you’re not going to decorate your tree right away, place it in a container of water and store the tree in a cool, shaded area, sheltered from the wind, such as in a garage.
- Before you bring your tree into the house, cut an inch from the stump. The fresh cut enables the tree to more readily take in water.
- Place the tree in a tree stand filled with one quart of water for every inch in diameter of the tree trunk. The average six-foot tree has a trunk with a four-inch diameter, meaning the tree stand should hold one gallon of water.
- Always keep the tree stand filled with water. Fresh-cut trees absorb a pint to a quart of water each day. Check the water level daily and always keep it above the cut end of the tree.
- Keep your tree away from heat and draft sources like fireplaces, radiators and television sets. Be sure your light cords and connections are in good working order. Unplug lights before you go to bed or leave the house.
- Real Christmas trees are biodegradable, which means they can be easily reused or recycled for mulch and other purposes. Contact your county recycling office for information on their tree recycling program.