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N.J. Agriculture Secretary kicks off choose and cut Christmas tree season

HAMPTON, NJ (Hunterdon County) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher officially kicked off the choose and cut Christmas tree season on Monday during the annual ceremonial cutting of a Christmas tree, held this year at Kingdom of Car-Lay Christmas Tree Farm in Hampton.

Governor Murphy proclaimed November 26 as Jersey Grown Christmas Tree Day, encouraging New Jersey residents to support the state’s farmers and visit choose and cut Christmas tree farms.

“When a family visits a New Jersey Christmas Tree farm it’s a wonderful way to create memories that last a lifetime and a tradition that can last through generations,” Secretary Fisher said.  “Christmas tree growers in New Jersey grow a wide variety of beautiful and healthy trees that fit into any home or business. Visiting a Christmas tree farm can be a day-long activity and it’s a great way to support the local economy.”

Kingdom of Car-Lay Christmas Tree Farm’s Norway Spruce won the 2018 New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association annual tree contest that was held at the Middlesex County Fair. It has been a long-standing tradition that the kick-off of the Choose-and-Cut Christmas tree season takes place at the Grand Champion’s farm. The first tree seedlings at Kingdom of Car-Lay were planted in 1986 with tree harvesting beginning in 1992. This season, Carl Paffendorf and Layce Gebhard, owners of Kingdom of Car-Lay, are celebrating 26 years of harvesting Christmas trees along with celebrating being the New Jersey Grand Champion. Kingdom of Car-Lay is a choose-and-cut operation featuring a variety of Spruce and Fir trees, open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Sunday, Dec. 23.

“One of our customers is a young man from town who comes every year with his wife and 4-year-old daughter to buy their Christmas tree,” Paffendorf said. “He and his mom started coming to our farm to buy their tree when he was about 10 years old. He’s been buying trees from us now, for over 25 years.

“We try to provide a fun experience, creating lasting family traditions that can be passed down from generation to generation.”

This year, Kingdom of Car-Lay will be donating the eight-foot Balsam tree cut by Secretary Fisher to the United Way of Hunterdon County. Almost 69,000 trees are cut in New Jersey each year. The last U.S. Census of Agriculture ranked New Jersey seventh in the nation in the number of Christmas tree growers, with hundreds of farms that grow more than 4,600 acres of Christmas trees in the state.

The New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers’ Association, organized in 1950, is a statewide organization of growers, professionals and industry leaders dedicated to the promotion and marketing of Christmas trees and related products. A listing of farms consumers can visit as well as the types of trees that best fit a need are available at njchristmastrees.org.

Also this year, the Department of Agriculture is having a social media Christmas tree photo contest of trees purchased from one of New Jersey’s Christmas tree farms. Whether in the field or once decorated at home, the department is asking for families to share photos of their tree on the Jersey Fresh Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages using the hashtag #JerseyFreshChristmas. Participants need to mention the name of the New Jersey Christmas Tree farm where the tree was purchased. The contest runs until December 25 and two winners will receive a $150 gift card to where they like finding Jersey Fresh the most. Learn more at findjerseyfresh.com/contest/.

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By: Jay Edwards Follow on Twitter | Like on Facebook

(Photo: Courtesy NJ Department of Agriculture)