New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today led the Department’s 8th annual tree-cutting tradition today at Chalker Creek Farm, one of the newest Christmas tree farms to participate in the New York State Grown & Certified program. The 6-foot Fraser Fir will be displayed at the Southern Tier Welcome Center later this week, greeting visitors as they enter New York State from Pennsylvania on I-81 North this holiday season – just in time for some of the busiest travel days of the year.
Commissioner Ball said, “The annual tree cutting is one of my favorite days of the year. It gives the Department an opportunity to shine a spotlight on New York’s Christmas Tree industry, and encourages New Yorkers to shop at local farms like Chalker Creek Farms, and other agricultural businesses for holiday décor like trees and wreaths to get into the festive spirit of the season. From the food we eat at Thanksgiving, to the trees we gather around, to the specialty items we purchase as thoughtful gifts, our local farmers and agricultural businesses provide some of the most celebratory objects of the season – setting the stage for so many happy holiday memories.”
Commissioner Ball led the tree cutting ceremony, accompanied by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, who also serves as the Assembly’s Agriculture Chair, State Senator Peter Oberacker, and Broome County Executive Jason Garnar.
Assemblymember Donna Lupardo said, “The annual Christmas tree cutting is the perfect time to showcase New York’s beautiful Grown and Certified trees. Purchasing a locally gown tree supports New York’s Christmas Tree industry, along with our local farmers. I’d like to thank Commissioner Ball for visiting Chalker Creek Farm in Chenango Forks for this annual tradition. The wonder of the season can really be experienced at any one of the state’s 875 Christmas tree farms.”
Senator Peter Oberacker said, “Holiday traditions are born out of a trip to pick out the family Christmas tree. Our local tree farms contribute greatly to New York’s economy, but even more importantly, they lend the perfect backdrop to the festive season ahead. The New York State Grown & Certified Program is a true testament to our state’s growing agribusiness sector, and it is always exciting to add new members like Chalker Creek Farm. My thanks to Commissioner Ball for his support of our farms of all varieties and I encourage everyone to shop local this holiday season – you won’t be disappointed.”
Representatives from the Christmas Tree Farmers Association, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Taste NY and the Southern Tier Welcome Center were also in attendance. In addition, the group celebrated Chalker Creek’s joining of the New York State Grown & Certified program. Chalker Creek Farm is now one of 36 New York State Grown & Certified Tree Farms, marking its adherence to environmental sustainability standards in growing their trees. The tree chosen will be proudly displayed at the Southern Tier Welcome Center, featuring a NYS Grown & Certified topper to be revealed on December 11. All Taste NY Welcome Centers and markets will display a New York State-grown Christmas tree and wreath, helping to promote the New York State Christmas tree industry to visitors.
Joe Licata, owner of Chalker Creek Farm, said, “It’s an honor to host this special tradition and welcome Commissioner Ball, the Department of Agriculture and Markets, and local leaders to our family farm today. We are thankful to be part of the New York State Christmas Tree community and growing our community has always been something we’re passionate about. We want to be seen as a neighbor and a friend to all our customers.”
Chalker Creek Farm is located in the Town of Chenango in the Southern Tier. Joe and his wife Jessica purchased the farm in 2012. Over 200 acres of the farm have about 4,000 trees with roughly 800 new trees planted every year. The farm opens to Southern Tier customers this weekend for the Cut-Your-Own tradition. In addition to trees, Chalker Creek Farm carries honey and honey products, maple syrup, and free-range and pasture-raised meats and eggs. The farm is open every weekend from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Saturday and Sunday. During the week, it is open by appointment. With hiking trails, and the winding creek nearby, there are also several sites, adorned with picnic tables, camp chairs and a fire pit, available for camping year-round. To learn more about the farm, camping offerings, and activities, visit the farm’s website.
With tree farms sprawling across almost 19,000 acres, New York state ranks #4 in the nation in terms of acres dedicated to growing Christmas trees. According to the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York, New York State is home to 875 tree farms. By selecting a tree from any of New York’s local tree farms, New Yorkers and their families support this important agricultural sector, which has an economic impact of almost $14 million dollars.
To find the New York-grown Christmas tree vendor closest to you, visit the newly relaunched NYS Grown & Certified website and the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York website. Farms interested in joining the program can visit the NYS Grown & Certified website and click “Get Certified” to learn more.
Several New York grown Christmas trees are also prominently on display throughout the State, and the McGinley family in the Town of Vestal – just 20 miles southwest of Chalker Creek Farm – contributed the most famous tree in the world, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, earlier this month. Commissioner Ball joined Rockefeller Center staff on Murray Hill Road to watch as an 80-foot tall, 12-ton Norway Spruce was hoisted onto a truck to go to New York City. The tree is believed to be about 80-85 years old.
In addition, the tree is at Empire State Plaza in Albany is a 38-foot tall Norway Spruce, donated by the Stack family from Waterford in Saratoga County. And, a 30-35 foot Balsam Fir at East Capitol Park was donated by the Serio family from Ballston Lake, also in Saratoga County.
As travels bring visitors through the Southern Tier for Thanksgiving this week, and throughout the festive season, the Southern Tier Welcome Center in The Town of Kirkwood provides an opportunity to fuel up on refreshments and learn about the area. Designed in the fashion of a carousel, the Welcome Center pays homage to Broome County’s biggest municipalities - Binghamton, Johnson City, and Endicott - and their unofficial title of being ‘Carousel Capital of the World’ as well as other icons of the region.
In addition to the NYS Grown & Certified trees on display at each of the state’s regional Welcome Centers and Taste NY markets, the Taste NY locations also feature a variety of gift items and gift sets perfect for the holidays. The markets are stocked with local products made and produced by New York farms and food and beverage producers unique to the region the Welcome Center is located in. For example, in the Southern Tier, visitors will find spiedies, paninis, seasonal soups and salads, as well as dried fruits, locally roasted coffee, and much more. From local, gourmet food items and locally produced craft beverages to novelty items and even bath and beauty products, gifts at stores range in size and price and can be customized. Customers may reach out to their closest local Taste NY location for specific offerings and details. Visit TasteNY.Gov to find your local Welcome Center(s) and Taste NY store(s).
Amy Willis, Director of the Regional Farmers Market and Taste NY said: “At the Southern Tier Welcome Center, visitors will notice all sorts of nods to well-known places in the area. We have a picturesque mountain backdrop, and a race car entrance sign which is in recognition of Watkins Glen. Look up to see an impressive ceiling sculpture donated by the Corning Museum of Glass. We can’t wait to add to our ambience with this tree from Chalker Creek Farm, and deck it out in the season’s best. It’s a nice complement to the other agricultural offerings visitors will find in our Taste NY market, which is stocked with Southern Tier favorites like spiedies, as well as fresh produce and grab-and-go options to come to the rescue of hungry travelers.”
For those who are unable to travel, or live out of state, an online marketplace, ShopTasteNY offers opportunities to shop for New York agricultural products and gifts from the comfort of home. ShopTasteNY.com has holiday gift sets available for purchase, as well as its regular selection of products that highlight the quality and diversity of the state. Orders can be shipped anywhere in the U.S. and Canada. To better ensure gift orders arrive by December 24, it is recommended to have orders placed by Monday, December 18.
Taste NY continues to celebrate its 10th Anniversary throughout the state. Last Tuesday, the Department of Agriculture and Markets announced two social media contests Taste NY is offering to coincide with the holiday season:
- #TasteTurns10 Selfie Contest: Starting today, Monday, November 20, and continuing the end of the year, Taste NY Markets in all 10 regional Welcome Centers across the state – including the Southern Tier - will offer New York State-themed “selfie stations.” To participate in the contest, New Yorkers and visitors traveling for the holiday season will need to snap a photo at the selfie station and post it on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtags #TasteTurns10. A QR code provided at the selfie station will provide directions for how to ensure participants are entered in the contest.
- #TriviaTuesday offers a new twist on a favorite Taste tradition where all Taste NY markets and regional Welcome Centers prepare tree toppers to top off their displays. Each Grown & Certified tree on display will highlight one of four different New York agricultural commodities, including apples, maple, dairy, etc. Leading up to the big reveal on Monday, December 11, social media users will have opportunities to guess what four commodities Taste NY will be featuring in the tree toppers based on a weekly series of trivia questions released on Tuesdays through TasteNY social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest). Each post includes a link to a form where followers can guess the commodity for a chance to be entered to win a $25 ShopTasteNY.com gift card. Participants will have until the Friday of the week the question is posted to enter. On each Friday, a winner will be drawn from a pool of that week’s participants.
About NYS Grown & Certified
The NYS Grown & Certified program was launched to help meet the growing consumer demand for local foods grown or produced to a higher standard. The program certifies New York State producers who adhere to high food safety and environmental stewardship standards. It is supported by a marketing campaign including on-product labels, promotional materials, and sales materials. Currently, more than 3,000 producers are participating in New York State Grown & Certified, representing more than 750,000 acres of farmland. For more information on NYS Grown & Certified, visit its website, and/or follow the program on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About Taste NY
The Taste NY initiative – currently celebrating its 10th Anniversary - has seen steady growth and recognition since it was created in 2013. Taste NY highlights the quality, diversity, and economic impact of food and beverages grown, produced, or processed in New York State. Taste NY aims to create new opportunities for producers through events, retail locations, and partnerships, such as at The Great New York State Fair and the Barclays Tournament at Bethpage State Park. Over the last 10 years, Taste NY has supported nearly 2,000 food and beverage producers participating in the program through retail outlets, events, and sponsorships. In 2022, 311 new producers were onboarded to the program through New York's Welcome Centers. Taste NY's food and beverage businesses also support the state's farmers by using New York grown and produced ingredients in their products. For a complete list of Taste NY locations, hours of operation and contact information, visit the Taste NY website. Connect with Taste NY on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Contact the Press Office
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
10B Airline Drive
Albany, New York 12235
The Great New York State Fair
581 State Fair Boulevard
Syracuse, New York 13209