Agriculture Commissioner Scott Soares selects a tree at Ioka Farm in Hancock to encourage residents to buy local. See more photos on the Green Communities Flickr page.
HANCOCK, Mass. — Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Scott J. Soares joined local legislators, town officials and community members on Friday at the Ioka Valley Farm to kick off the holiday season by harvesting a Massachusetts-grown Christmas tree.
During the annual Christmas tree cutting event, Soares encouraged Massachusetts residents to buy locally-grown trees from one of the commonwealth's 200 Christmas tree farms.
"Going out to a local Christmas tree farm to harvest my own tree is one of my favorite traditions and I’m renaming today 'Green Friday' in honor of this ceremony," said Soares. "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. For every Christmas tree harvested, one to three seedlings are planted, according to the DAR.
Celebrating its 75th anniversary, Ioka Valley Farm is a diversified, family owned and operated working farm dedicated to providing high quality locally grown Christmas trees. Like many Massachusetts farmers, the owners have looked to implement new technologies to capture long-term energy efficiencies.
Along with a grant received through DAR's Farm Viability Enhancement Program, the Ioka Valley Farm recently invested $200,000 to remodel and expand its sugar house operations.
"Buying a real Christmas tree from your local grower keeps open space and money local, as well as reducing our carbon footprint. It also provides animal habitat, prevents soil erosion and beautifies the landscape. Christmas trees are recyclable, bio-degradable and make 'scents,'" said Melissa Leab of Ioka Valley Farm.
For a list of more than 200 Christmas tree farms across the state, visit the MassGrown & Fresher website to purchase locally grown balsam, concolor, Fraser, noble fir and Scotch and white pine trees.
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