Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

December 01, 2008

Commissioner: Buy Local, Buy a New York Grown Christmas Tree

Real Trees Provide Countless Benefits for Families and Communities

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today encouraged consumers to buy a real, New York grown Christmas tree this holiday season.

"There’s nothing like a real Christmas tree in the house during the holidays," the Commissioner said. "The fresher the tree was cut, the better it smells, the longer it lasts, and the better you can feel about supporting your local economy and selecting a truly recyclable product. So be sure to buy a real New York grown Christmas tree this holiday season. It’s the right thing to do for all the right reasons."

Commissioner Hooker will be at Ellms’ Christmas Trees in Charlton (Saratoga County) on Friday, December 5th to purchase a real, New York grown Christmas tree that will be displayed in the lobby of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets in Albany.

In addition to picking out a tree for the Department, the Commissioner will recognize the "Trees for Troops" effort that the Ellms’ family has been involved with for the past three years. At 9:30am on Friday, December 5th, Trees for Troops will be picking up donated real, New York Christmas trees from tree farmers throughout eastern New York that will be shipped by FedEx to 25 U.S. military bases in 17 different countries. Last year, more than 16,000 real Christmas trees were donated from across the nation. More information on this program can be found on the National Christmas Tree Association’s website at

Christmas trees provide numerous environmental and economic benefits. Christmas tree farms use land that might otherwise be developed as its soil is not often suited for typical agricultural crops. They also help stabilize soil and protect local water supplies. They also absorb carbon dioxide and other gases. One acre of Christmas trees emits enough oxygen for 18 people.

Economically, Christmas trees provide an additional income for farmers and rural landowners. They also create seasonal jobs and serve as an economic stimulus for local communities, offering not only trees, but wreaths and a tourism opportunity.

Christmas trees also help prevent the introduction of invasive plant pests. New York trees take 7 to 10 years to grow and must be maintained in excellent health because they must be aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Trees grown under such conditions are naturally resistant to insects and diseases. By purchasing a locally grown Christmas tree, there is little chance of introducing new pests to the area or spreading pests from one area to another.

Christmas trees are also considered a renewable resource as they are typically chipped and recycled as mulch after the season. They may also be placed outside following the holiday season and used as shelter for small birds and mammals, and later chipped and recycled in the spring.

Bob Norris, Executive Director for the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York, said, "New York Christmas trees are a truly green product, grown in our backyard. With more than 1,000 Christmas tree farms here in New York, it is easy to find a farm that is close by, making the annual tradition of picking out the family Christmas tree as close as over the river and through the woods.  Take time this holiday season to support one of our many local farms. Your support will help both our economy and our environment."

New York Christmas tree farms offer a wide variety of real Christmas trees. Fraser Firs and Balsam Firs are the most popular varieties in New York State, while White and Blue Spruce, Scotch Pine, and other firs, such as Canaan, Douglas, Concolour and others, are available as well. Many local Christmas tree farms also offer fresh roping, swags and wreaths along with handmade crafts for Christmas.

Locally grown and harvested trees, when watered properly, can remain fresh in your home well past New Year’s Day. To be sure that your Christmas tree was grown in New York, consumers should look for the ‘Pride of New York’ emblem. The Pride of New York emblem signifies products that are grown or made in New York State. Follow these guidelines to keep your real Christmas tree fresh throughout the holiday season:

1. After you bring the tree home, cut one-quarter inch off the base of the trunk. Keep the tree outdoors in a container of water and protect it from the wind and sun until you’re ready to decorate. This helps the tree retain moisture.

2. Before you bring the tree into your home, make another fresh cut a minimum of one-quarter inch off the base of the trunk. This reopens the tree stem so it can take water immediately. Place it in a stand with fresh water. Do not allow the water level to drop below the fresh cut or the stem will reseal.

3. Trees may drink from 2 pints to 1 gallon of water a day. Use a stand with 1-gallon capacity or more. Keep your tree away from drying heat sources such as sunny windows, hot air ducts and fireplaces. Check the water level daily and supply fresh water as needed.

According to the 2002 U.S. Census of Agriculture, New York ranks nationally in the top five for Christmas tree production with approximately 1,000 Christmas tree growers, utilizing 32,600 acres across the State.

To find a Christmas tree farm in your area, visit the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets website at or the Pride of New York website at On both of these websites, you’ll be able to search a region or county for all the local Christmas tree farms in the area, including cut-your-own operations, with directions, hours of operation, contact information and a brief description of the farm.

2008 Press Releases