New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball led the Department’s annual tree-cutting tradition today at New York State Grown & Certified Stokoe Farms in Scottsville, cutting down a 9-foot-tall Fraser Fir that will be proudly displayed at the Finger Lakes Welcome Center. The annual event highlights New York’s Christmas tree industry and encourages New Yorkers to shop local at farms— as they pick out trees this season— and at local agricultural businesses—as they check items off of gift lists for loved ones and set their tables for the holidays.
Commissioner Ball said, “New York’s agricultural industry plays such an important role in holiday traditions in ways that many New Yorkers may be surprised to discover. From the trees we gather around and wreaths we decorate with, to the food we eat and specialty items we purchase as thoughtful gifts, our local farms and agricultural businesses contribute to this festive season in incredible ways. We hope New Yorkers remember local farmers and businesses during this season of giving, and all year long.”
Gene Knudsen, President of the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York, said, “Thank you to Commissioner Richard Ball for continuing this tradition. We look forward to it every year, as it unofficially kicks off the busiest and most magical time of year for Christmas tree farmers. We hope those who celebrate Christmas will bring their families to a local farm, enjoy an outdoor outing, and pick a fresh centerpiece for their traditions.”
According to the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York, New York State is home to 875 tree farms. With tree farms sprawling across almost 19,000 acres, the state ranks #4 in the country in acres dedicated to growing Christmas trees. By selecting a tree from any one of these local farms, New Yorkers and their families can support this important agricultural sector, which has an $13.8 million economic impact. Dozens of Christmas tree farms are also members of the NYS Grown & Certified Program, which means they adhere to environmental sustainability standards in growing their trees.
Suzanne Stokoe, 6th generation owner of Stokoe Farms, said: “It’s an honor to host this special tradition and welcome Commissioner Ball and the Department of Agriculture and Markets to our family farm today. We are blessed to be part of the New York State Christmas tree community. We encourage all New Yorkers to ‘Keep it real’ and get a REAL New York State Christmas tree.”
Stokoe Farms, located in Scottsville in Monroe County, offers a premium selection of Fraser Fir, Douglas Fir and Concolor Fir trees. Stokoe also offers several “special touches” to enhance the tree-cutting experience. There are wagons that take customers out to the fields to find the perfect tree, and staff assists with the baling process. There are also pre-cut trees available in all sizes and shapes, ranging from the “Charlie Brown” size to 10-feet tall. With an array of family-friendly activities, the farm offers an old-fashioned Christmas feel with wonderful traditions and opportunities to maximize memories made with loved ones. To learn more about Stokoe Farms and see their events and activities, visit their website.
To find the New York-grown Christmas tree vendor closest to you, visit the NYS Grown & Certified website and the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York website.
The 9-foot-tall Fraser Fir will be displayed at the Finger Lakes Welcome Center in Geneva, decked out in NYS Grown & Certified splendor to promote New York’s Christmas tree growers. As travels bring visitors through the Finger Lakes for Thanksgiving this week, and throughout the festive season, the Welcome Center provides an opportunity to fuel up on refreshments and learn about the area.
Jennifer Kime, Market Manager at the Finger Lakes Welcome Center said, “At the Finger Lakes Welcome Center in Geneva, we are known for our craft beverages, local area gifts, and friendly knowledgeable staff, along with our stunning, breathtaking views of Seneca Lake. This beautiful tree from Stokoe Farms definitely complements the warm, welcoming atmosphere that visitors experience here. We are very thankful to Stokoe Farms for donating this tree. It’s actually our second NYS Grown & Certified tree this year! Earlier this week, our team picked up a tree from Darling’s Tree Farm in Clifton Springs, so New York’s agriculture offerings are on full display and highlighted here.”
Travelers are encouraged to look for other NYS Grown & Certified trees on display at each of the state’s regional Welcome Centers and Taste NY stores. The Welcome Centers and Taste NY stores also features a variety of gift items and gift sets, 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. From local, gourmet food items and locally produced craft beverages to novelty items and even bath and beauty products, gifts 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.
Many Taste NY markets and stores sell grocery items including charcuterie meats and cheeses, as well as wine and cider, serving as a convenient place to find food and beverages that can contribute to fresh, delicious holiday meals, or serve as last-minute hostess gifts. In addition, Taste NY gift stores and product displays can be found in travel and tourism hubs across the State, such as service areas along the NYS Thruway, airports, and train stations. Visit TasteNY.Gov to find your local Welcome Center(s) and Taste NY store(s).
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. Orders placed by December 20 will arrive by December 24.
New York grown Christmas trees are also prominently on display throughout the State. Four NYS Grown & Certified Christmas trees at the Empire State Plaza will come from Zema’s Nursery in Stephentown, Rensselaer County. Another tree at the Empire State Plaza is coming from the Sorel family in Voorheesville, Albany County. East Capitol Park in Albany will also have a Christmas tree on display, donated by the Chesley family in Schenectady, Schenectady County.
In addition, just down the road from the Finger Lakes Welcome Center, the City of Geneva’s tree is also NYS Grown & Certified. That tree, which will illuminate Downtown Geneva, is from Darling’s Tree Farm in Clifton Springs, located in Ontario County.
The most famous Christmas tree in the world, the Rockefeller Center Tree, is also New York grown. Two weeks ago, Commissioner Ball joined Rockefeller Center staff in Queensbury to watch as an 82-foot tall, 14-ton Norway Spruce was hoisted onto a truck to go to New York City.
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 has seen steady growth and recognition since it was created in 2013. The program, which is overseen by the Department of Agriculture and Markets, creates opportunities for local producers to showcase their goods at a variety of venues throughout the State and at large public events, such as the Great New York State Fair and the Barclays Tournament at Bethpage State Park. It has also helped the farms and companies participating in the program to reach more customers, increase online sales, and, in many cases, expand the processing capacity of their business. 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.