For Immediate Release - November 23, 2012

DAR Commissioner Watson Helps Kick Off the Holiday Season with Annual Christmas Tree Cutting Ceremony

MENDON – Friday, November 23, 2012 – Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Gregory C. Watson today joined local legislators, town officials and community members at the Vandervalk Farm to kick off the holiday season by harvesting a Massachusetts-grown Christmas tree.

During the annual Christmas tree cutting event, Commissioner Watson encouraged Massachusetts residents to buy locally-grown trees from one of the Commonwealth’s 284 Christmas tree farms.

“Going out to a local Christmas tree farm is great fun for the family,” said Commissioner Watson. “In addition to being the freshest trees possible, locally-grown Christmas trees are renewable and recyclable and buying one from a local farm is good for the local economy.”

Christmas tree production is a sustainable agricultural practice. Since trees are a crop, they are continually replenished. Nearly 98 percent of all Christmas trees are grown on farms, thus limiting negative impact on forests. Based on the last USDA agriculture census, there are 284 farms with 3,164 acres in production and more than 75,900 trees cut across the Commonwealth.

Vandervalk Farm is a family owned and operated working farm dedicated to providing high quality locally-grown Christmas trees. Owners first planted 10 acres of trees in 1984, with the farm opening for business in 1994. Like many Massachusetts farmers, the Vandervalk’s have looked to implement new technologies to capture long-term energy efficiencies and have installed solar panels on the house and out within the Christmas tree field.

"Christmas trees allow us to provide a place for families and friends to spend quality time together in the spirit of the Christmas season, and with their support they help us preserve the open space for the enjoyment of future generations," said Casey Vandervalk.

For a list of Christmas tree farms across the state, visit the MassGrown & Fresher website. For information on tree selection, visit http://www.christmas-trees.org/consumerinformation.htm.

DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow us at www.twitter.com/MDARCommish and www.twitter.com/MassGrown

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