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Christmas Tree Imports Threaten New York Growers

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – New York tree growers want holiday shoppers around the state to help keep them from becoming an endangered species.

Ah yes, it's holiday time again. Everywhere you look, the streets are lined with graceful electronic reindeer, and giant, fat inflated santas.

And you certainly can't miss the lot after lot after lot filled with real cut Christmas trees.

They stand hopeful and waiting for some family to choose them as the perfect tree to take home. But the state's Department of Agriculture and Markets is encouraging buyers to be really selective and choose only New York grown trees.

Jessica Chittenden is spokesperson for the Ag Department. She said a homegrown tree will look and feel better.

"One of the important things for people to realize when you do buy a realtree from a local grower, it's a lot fresher and it's going to last a lot longer and the needles are going to stay on a lot longer," said Chittenden.

"And also knowing that buying a local tree means that you are supporting your local economy. You're supporting local green space, and keeping those spaces open and productive, and beautiful all year long," said Chittenden.

She said consumers might be surprised to learn that many of the trees stacked up for sale at the road side are from outside the state.

Chittenden said Canada is one of the state's biggest competitors. But she said there really is no reason to look farther than our own backyard.

There are about 1,800 acres of trees grown in New York by roughly 1,000 tree farmers. And hey, Chittenden said, why not really get into the Christmas tree experience?

"It becomes a family tradition in many cases, where a families can go out, pick their family Christmas tree with their family, make it a morning or afternoon event, and actually get down there on you hands and knees,and get some exercise and cut down your own Christmas tree," said Chittenden.

Christmas tree shoppers can look for the "Pride of New York" logo at tree farms or at the lots selling cut trees.

Information on where to locate a tree farm can also be found at the New York state Department of Agriculture's web site.