More than 100 New Jersey Christmas trees were delivered to New Jersey National Guardsmen and their families Wednesday as part of Christmas Trees for New Jersey Military Families, a joint initiative of the New Jersey Departments of Agriculture and Military and Veterans Affairs, the New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association and New Jersey Agricultural Society’s Farmers Against Hunger program.
New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher welcomed military families at a special ceremony at the New Jersey National Guard Joint Military and Family Assistance Center in Bordentown.
“We are very pleased to facilitate the donation of fresh cut Christmas trees directly from our state’s tree farmers to brighten the holidays for New Jersey military families,” said Secretary Fisher. “Growing Christmas trees is more than a business to these farmers. They welcome people onto the farms year after year and are part of these families’ traditions. We appreciate farmers for their generosity.”
Christmas Trees for New Jersey Military Families is in its second year. The New Jersey Agricultural Society collected the trees over a three-day period using their Farmers Against Hunger trucks. More than 12 New Jersey Christmas tree growers donated over 100 trees for the initiative. Forty soldiers and Airmen picked up trees during today’s event. The remaining 60 trees will be delivered to families and three other armories around the state.
“During this holiday season, there are tens of thousands of troops deployed around the globe safeguarding our nation’s interests,” said Brig. Gen. Steve Ferrari, Deputy Adjutant General, New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “This generous donation will bring holiday cheer to our troops and their families who have given so much so all Americans can enjoy this joyous time of year.”
The New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association is a state organization of growers, professionals and allied industry leaders dedicated to the advancement of the latest information in the production, promotion and marketing of Christmas trees and related products. First organized in 1950, the association now has 200 members. Vice President Tim Dunne said the growers are very community-minded, donating trees for various causes and raising funds for Farmers Against Hunger’s gleaning efforts.
“New Jersey Christmas tree growers work hard all year tending to trees so that when Christmas season arrives, the culmination of that is bringing joy to a family with that perfect tree for their home,” said Dunne. “We are happy to donate trees to New Jersey military families. It is a small gesture that we can do for those who help protect our freedom every day.”
“The New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association has been a supporter of Farmers Against Hunger for many years,” said Kristina Guttadora, New Jersey Agricultural Society Executive Director. “We are very thankful for their continued support and are proud to partner in sharing the joy of fresh Christmas trees with military families.”
Almost 69,000 Christmas trees are cut in New Jersey each year. The 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture ranked New Jersey seventh in the nation in the number of Christmas tree growers, with 809 farms that grow more than 4,600 acres of Christmas trees in the state.