State Agricultural Officials Encourage Consumers to Buy Locally Grown Christmas Trees and Holiday Decorations
As residents from the Berkshires to Cape Cod begin decorating their homes for the holidays, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) is encouraging people to choose locally grown products this holiday season.
"From Christmas trees and wreaths to poinsettias, Massachusetts produces a wealth of products for holiday decorating," said DAR Commissioner Scott Soares. "Buying locally grown decorations not only helps support local agriculture and boost the local economy, but it is an environmentally friendly choice."
Massachusetts has 280 Christmas tree farms, where families can choose from ready-cut trees or harvest their own. Christmas tree farms help preserve open space, and often provide habitat for local wildlife. In addition, real Christmas trees are more environmentally friendly than artificial ones that contain non-biodegradable plastics. Many Massachusetts Christmas tree farms also offer wreaths, swags, and centerpieces made from locally grown evergreens. Christmas tree farms sell out fast, so call ahead to confirm the availability of trees. For more information, visit http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/index.htm, and click on "Christmas trees."
Locally grown trees are also available at many retail lots. Consumers should ask retailers where the Christmas trees were grown and when they were cut, and check for freshness by making sure tree needles don't snap when bent. This year the Massachusetts State House will display a locally-grown Christmas tree from Kip's Tree Farm in New Braintree.
Massachusetts growers also produce half a million poinsettia plants annually. These harbingers of the holiday season are available in traditional red, as well as white, pink, and bi-color, from local independent garden centers, farm stands and florists.
DAR reminds homeowners and holiday decorators to beware of invasive plants that may be used in holiday wreaths and garland. The two most common ones are Oriental Bittersweet and Multiflora Rose.
The DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance - the DAR strives to support, regulate, and enhance the Commonwealth's agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production.