Commissioner Gregory C. Watson
Commissioner, Department of Agriculture Resources (DAR)
As residents across the Commonwealth contemplated whether to repurpose their Thanksgiving leftovers or partake in the madness of “Black Friday”, I decided to take the obvious best choice and head to Mendon, Massachusetts to celebrate “Green Friday”.
One could say that Christmas came early, by way of sunshine and toasty temperatures, at the annual “First” Christmas Tree Cutting for 2013 at the Vandervalk Farm.
The morning had all the makings of a traditional event for dozens of families. As children excitedly ran around the Christmas tree farm, a two-story Santa Claus hovered at the entrance to Casey and Susan Vandervalk’s winter wonderland. Another special highlight is the farm store filled with many handmade ornaments.
Fueled by a cup of freshly mulled apple cider, I trekked towards the 10 acres of rolling hills as Casey shared the vision of his farm and how it continues to grow — if not in acreage, by diversity of what they produce. Approximately a year ago, the Vandervalks starting producing blueberry wine. They were so successful last year that they are preparing to double their efforts. Customers visiting the farm in the summer are able to “pick their own” blueberries with the dedicated acre for this additional opportunity to buy local.
20 minutes later, with the historical briefing on the years of planting and care that created the wave of the deep green made of Balsim and Concolor firs, I got ready to harvest the official “first-cut” of the season, by choosing a full Fraser fir for the celebration. Let the season begin!
We brought the fragrant Fraser tree back to the tree wrapping station to give to a deserving military family identified by the National Guard. The family will celebrate their holiday, like so many across the Commonwealth, with a local Christmas tree, grown with pride and love. To find a local tree farm near you, go to DAR's MassGrown and Fresher webpage.
Happy Holidays! And don’t forget to buy local for your holiday feast too.
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: February posted on Feb 25
February’s contest winner was Amanda Bettle, who photographed sheep at The Natural Resources Trust of Easton. This photo features Dog, a former 4-H show animal and sole male sheep among the nine ewes in the Natural Resources Trust of Easton (NRT) flock. It is the mission …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: February
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: January posted on Jan 26
January’s contest winner was Renee Finnegan, who photographed a pensive Highland cow at Oak Meadows Farm & Garden in Rutland. Glenn and Mary Kauppila have been farming 100 acres of land in Rutland for approximately 15 years. With the help of their three adult children, they …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: January
Visit Winter Farmers’ Markets for Holiday Gifts posted on Dec 5
While performers serenade shoppers with upbeat or easy-listening music, farmers and food producers sell a wide variety of local food throughout the winter at over 40 winter farmers’ markets this season. Those who have not yet visited a winter market might be surprised by …Continue Reading Visit Winter Farmers’ Markets for Holiday Gifts