For Immediate Release - December 15, 2010

Agricultural Officials Encourage Residents to "Gift Local" this Holiday Season

Christmas trees, cheese, turkeys are among locally produced items available for giving

BOSTON - December 10, 2010 - With the holiday season upon us, Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Scott Soares reminds consumers to "gift local" this year - by buying local food, beverages, decorations, and other products when selecting holiday gifts or preparing holiday meals.

"Massachusetts growers and specialty food producers offer an exciting range of seasonal items, perfect for holiday gift giving and decorating," said Commissioner Soares. "Buying local promotes Massachusetts businesses and stimulates the economy across the Commonwealth."

Turkeys:

  • Make your centerpiece this holiday season, a "fresh dressed" local Mass Grown & Fresher bird, available from more than 16 turkey farms across the state. Some growers offer turkey roasted to order complete with gravy and stuffing. Massachusetts farmers produce approximately 18,000 turkeys annually, valued at $2.7 million, including the sale of whole turkeys, gravies, turkey pies, and other related products. For information about where to purchase Massachusetts-grown turkeys, visit http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/turkey.htm .

Cheese:

  • 23 farms around the state produce more than 600,000 pounds of farmstead cheeses, as well as barrel churned butter. Approximately 24,500 gallons of milk from more than 400 cows and 180 goats go into making local varieties of camembert, blue, cheddar, Gouda, chevre and other cheeses. For a list of cheese producers and their products, see http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/cheese.htm.

Wine:

  • Toast the holidays with wine made with Massachusetts-grown grapes and other fruit. There are 34 wineries located across the state, producing about 200,000 gallons of chardonnay, pinot noir, Riesling, gewürztraminer, pinot blanc, and pinot gris and other varieties annually. Wines made with fruit such as cranberries, apples, raspberries, strawberries, and pears add unique local flavor. For information on Massachusetts wineries visit

http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/wineries.htm .

Decorations:

  • Plan a trip to a Massachusetts Christmas tree farm, where families can choose from ready-cut trees or harvest their own. Many Massachusetts Christmas tree farms also offer wreaths, swags, and centerpieces made from locally grown evergreens. Massachusetts Christmas tree plantations also help preserve open space and provide habitat for wildlife. Some farms sell out early, so call ahead to confirm the availability of trees. For more information, visit http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/index.htm and search for Christmas trees.
  • Massachusetts growers 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. http://massnrc.org/farmlocator/map.aspx?Type=Garden%20Center

Other gifts:

  • The 2011 Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar makes a great gift. Calendars, which feature the winning photos of Bay State farming from the department's annual photo contest, cost $10. The proceeds benefit Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom, a non-profit organization that works with teachers to develop classroom materials. Published by Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom Inc., in cooperation with DAR and the US Department of Agriculture, the calendar features a winning photograph each month, plus several honorable mention winners. To view the calendar, visit

http://www.mass.gov/agr/news/fmr/2010/5_october_november.htm#ag_calendar.

  • The Massachusetts Specialty Foods Association offers "The Flavors of Massachusetts" gift baskets. Available in several sizes, assortments include Massachusetts sparkling cider, fruit jams and jellies, honey, maple syrup, cranberry chutney and candies, and more.

Local meals:

  • For those who would rather eat than cook, an increasing number of restaurants are sourcing food from nearby farms. No matter where you are in the state, there is sure to be a chef cooking up a feast using apples, cranberries, greens or meats that were grown or raised by a local farmer. You can visit your regional buy local group ( www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/buy-locals.htm) for additional resources on finding farm fresh food grown in or near your neighborhood.

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 - 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. For more information, visit DAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr , and/or follow us at http://twitter.com/MDARCommish. For your gateway to locally grown products, specialty foods, and fun ag-tivities go to www.mass.gov/massgrown.