Friday, September 27, 2013

An Unexpected Story: Christmas Tree Tips

As I was wandering the fairgrounds, I stopped by the Christmas tree displays. I’ve always walked past them, but this was the first time I stayed to ask questions and admire the exhibit. I ran into David Fearn, who has been a member of the Massachusetts Grower’s Association since 1985. He volunteers at the outdoor exhibit at The Big E promoting the industry and answering questions.

Hemlock Hill Tree Farm - State Champion 
Trees are brought to the fairgrounds from each New England state, and this year’s State Champion and First Place award was given to Bill Kogut of Hemlock Hill Tree Farm in Somers, Conn. If you’re curious as to what makes one tree better than the other, you might be surprised to learn there are 9 different areas trees are judged on: 
  • Taper – The overall shape of the tree (too fat or too skinny?)
  • Handle – Is it clean of branches and small enough to fit into a tree stand?
  • Main Stem – Is the stem too visible, is it straight?
  • Top – Is there one on top? Is it too long or too short? Is it crooked or straight? Does it have needles?
  • Foliage – Is the tree dry? Does it have good color? Is it light, medium or heavy density? Is the color and density even on all sides?
  •  Damage – Is there insect, disease or mechanical damage & how much?
  • Cleanliness – Are there foreign materials in the tree?
  • Other Defects – Does it have crows nest, horns, etc.?
  • Overall Appeal – (subjective) How much does the judge like the tree?
David was a great person to shoot the breeze with. He was extremely educated and knowledgeable about Christmas trees. He owns a family-run Christmas tree farm. He got into the business because he had the land and wanted to utilize it. He used to raise animals, but said they are high maintenance and need a lot of attention. After reconsidering what he wanted to do with his land, he discovered how awesome Christmas trees are to farm because they are much less time consuming. He has 30 acres of land and 20 acres of Christmas trees. And it’s a beautiful business because if the tree doesn't sell one Christmas it can continue to grow all year long until it’s sold during the next holiday season.

David owns GlenGary Christmas Tree Farm at 539 Shoemaker Lane in Agawam, Mass. It’s all hands on deck starting the weekend after Thanksgiving until the weekend before Christmas. His entire family helps out at their local business. It’s a great season for the family to spend more time together, and it’s a fun, bonding experience for visitors. David was quite funny. He said all the customers that come to his farm are happy to be there to purchase a Christmas tree.David is very gracious and offers free tractor rides, hot chocolate or cider, candy canes and coloring books. He also has a Christmas Shop with accessories to spiff up your tree.
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