Truly green Christmas: Buy a locally-grown tree

If you buy a real Christmas tree this season, it's a good idea to ask where the trees are grown. Often, the answer will surprise you. Many local vendors that sell precut trees have them shipped from other parts of the country and even Canada.

Locally grown trees are fresher and will last longer plus supporting local farmers helps the local economy.

Not to mention local trees are often cheaper and greener-that is less gas and transportation is needed to get the tree to your living room. For example, a "U-cut" tree at Czajkowski's Christmas Tree Land in Stockbridge costs $26, no matter the size. Some non-local trees at other vendors in the area cost $50 or more.

"There's nothing like a real Christmas tree in the house during the holidays," the New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker 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."

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.

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