By Dari Kotzker
He picked out a Douglas fir, and with just a little effort, New Jersey’s Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher kicked off the choose and cut Christmas tree season at Wyckoff’s Christmas Tree Farm. For evergreen enthusiasts, this beats an artificial or store-bought tree hands down.
“The reason for choose and cut, honestly you know that you get a quality fresh product, a local product, something you harvest yourself, and we honestly enjoy having families come out here,” said Wyckoff’s Christmas Tree Farm grower John Wyckoff.
For the third year in a row, this family-owned White Township farm won the best tree in the state as part of the annual New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association contest.
But that’s not the only honor this year. The Wyckoffs are also the grand champion in the 2013 National Christmas Tree Contest. Four of their trees are now displayed in the White House during the holiday season. So what makes their trees top notch?
“I think that we really pay attention to detail and we’re always inventing a better mousetrap if you will, always improving on our trees and to put out the highest quality Christmas tree that anybody could want,” Wyckoff said.
“It’s extraordinary that we are premiere growers across the county to be the grand champion, have premium trees in White House says we have fabulous tree growers in this state,” said Fisher.
The season of giving continues with Wycoff’s donating the tree that was cut today and 100 just like it to the “Trees for Troops” charity program. Plus 20 more fresh-cut evergreen trees to a family success center in Phillipsburg.
“I think it just shows the generosity of the human spirit. It really shows New Jerseyans sticking together and taking care of each other and wanting to celebrate the holidays,” said New Jersey Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake.
With more than 1,000 tree farms in the state and approximately 79,000 cut each year, producing Christmas trees is an important part of the state’s agritourism industry. According to a 2007 U.S. census agriculture report, New Jersey ranked sixth in the nation in the number of Christmas tree growers. And this year, the sales outlook is positive.
“All of our growers are recording record sales from this past weekend. The weather cooperated, the weather’s supposed to be fabulous, which is what we hope for. It’s a very short season when you’re a Christmas tree grower and you hope to be blessed with good weather and it looks like this year we are going to be,” said New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association President Christian Nicholson.
Gov. Chris Christie proclaimed today as Jersey Grown Christmas Tree Day, which encourages New Jersey residents to support state farmers and visit choose and cut farms.