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Cranston’s Christmas Tree Farm in Ashfield, MA. Photo by Ruth Osgood.

Cranston’s Christmas Tree Farm in Ashfield, MA. Photo by Ruth Osgood.

December’s photo contest winner was Ruth Osgood, who photographed Cranston’s Christmas Tree Farm in Ashfield.

Cranston’s Christmas Tree Farm is currently owned by third generation farmer Tom Cranston and his wife Cynthia. Their 160 acres of land has served many purposes since it was first bought by Tom’s grandfather in the 1940’s for raising sheep. As seen in the winning picture, the farm boasts a farmhouse built in 1773 and a barn built for Tom’s father’s dairy cows. When Tom and Cynthia took over the farm in the late 1970’s, they decided to switch from dairy farming to growing Christmas trees. Since pine trees take at least 8 years after planting to mature into full-sized Christmas trees, the Cranston’s waited until 1989 to begin selling trees to wholesale retailers and eventually opened their farm to the public.

Throughout the United States, there is an annual contest to find the best Christmas tree in the nation to send to Washington, D.C. In 2007, the Cranston’s decided to participate in the contest with a bluish-green Balsam Fir that stood 12 feet tall. The Cranstons’ tree won first place and they became the first Christmas tree farm in Massachusetts to win the contest since its inception in 1966. Tom and Cynthia went to Washington and presented Vice President Dick Cheney with their award-winning Massachusetts-grown tree.

When visiting Cranston’s Christmas Tree Farm, you can cut your own or choose from a selection of freshly cut trees. Tom and Cynthia, along with their children and soon their grandchildren, tend to an astounding 32,000 pine trees on 40 acres of their land. Varieties of trees grown include Balsam, Concolor and Fraser Firs. The remainder of their land consists of hay fields and woodland where they place 1,200 maple syrup taps in March each year. Their maple syrup is for sale in their gift shop, along with honey, wreaths, ornaments and other gift items.

Each month, we are posting the 2014 Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar’s photo of the month. The calendar features a winning photo of Bay State farming as well as interesting facts about local agriculture. The 2015 Celebrating the Seasons of Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar is now available for purchase. All photos were taken by amateur photographers who won the annual Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar Photo ContestProceeds from the $10 calendars benefit Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom, a small, private non-profit organization that has been working since 1983 to provide agricultural education and training.

Written By:


DAR Agricultural Market’s Intern

Jane is currently a Simmons College dietetic intern that includes a rotation at the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. Upon completion of her internship in May 2015, Jane will be eligible to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Originally from the Hudson Valley in New York, Jane has a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Science from Russell Sage College in Troy, NY and will complete her master’s degree in Nutrition Science and Policy from Tufts University this December, 2014.

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