At Third Stone Farm, we grow a variety of trees across our 24 acre farm. We have over 5,000 Christmas trees planted ranging in all sizes. We plan to maintain a a plantation of 6,000 trees with annual harvest of 10% by 2021.
Our main tree species are:
with a handful of mature Blue Spruce remaining
About 12 acres of our farm are planted in trees right now, with another 8 acres forested and the remaining land as field. Why all the field? Well, at Third Stone Farm, we authentically follow organic and permaculture practices and are working on USDA organic certification. Plantation blocks of trees are rotated around the farm as part of our agricultural practice. When a new block of trees is planted in the spring, we maintain those trees each year by hand pruning and weekly mowing. We never use chemicals, herbicides or pesticides. When those trees are harvested, the field remains fallow for a few years before replanting trees. This practice helps build up soil fertility naturally (with the occasional sowing of buckwheat and other cover crops as a green manure), and is very good for wildlife. We are currently in the process of organic certification through the USDA but this requires several years of planning, work and records before it is complete, even though we have always abided by the requirements from the beginning.
To learn more about our expanded permaculture work: www.willowbrookfarmnh.org
Our forest is very actively managed with a mix of typical New England species, primarily of white pine, red oak, red maple, sugar maple, beech ash, white birch and poplar. We harvest white pine for building material, promote the maples for sap collection and manage the other trees for biodiversity, wildlife and firewood for our properties. Ask us about or legacy tree program!
We take stewardship of the land very seriously. We are members of the NH Northeast Organic Farming Association, the Green Alliance, the NH-VT Christmas Tree Association and the National Christmas Tree Association.
How to Care for Your Farm-Grown Christmas Tree
- When a Christmas tree is cut, more than half its weight is water. With proper care, you can maintain the quality of your tree. Below are a number of tips on caring for your tree:
- Displaying trees in water in a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining their freshness and minimizing needle loss problems.
- Make a fresh cut to remove about a 1/2-inch thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don’t cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in the stand and also reduces the amount of water available to the tree.
- Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible. Most species can go 6 to 8 hours after cutting the trunk and still take up water. Don’t bruise the cut surface or get it dirty.
- If needed, trees can be temporarily stored for several days in a cool location. Place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket that is kept full of water.
- To display the trees indoors, use a stand with an adequate water holding capacity for the tree. As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Devices are available that help maintain a constant water level in the stand.
- Use a stand that fits your tree. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.
- Keep trees away from major sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day.
- The temperature of the water used to fill the stand is not important and does not affect water uptake.
- Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged in water.
- Drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does NOT improve water uptake.
- Use of lights that produce low heat, such as miniature lights, will reduce drying of the tree.
- Always inspect light sets prior to placing them on the tree. If worn, replace with a new set.
- Do not overload electrical circuits.
- Always turn off the tree lights when leaving the house or when going to bed.
- Monitor the tree for freshness. After Christmas or if the tree is dry, remove it from the house.
- Visit the Tree Recycling page to find a recycling program near you.
- Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace.Prepared by Dr. Gary Chastagner and Dr. Eric Hinesley; edited by the National Christmas Tree Association
Here are some interesting facts from the National Christmas Tree Association:
- There are approximately 25-30 million Real Christmas Trees sold in the U.S. every year.
- There are close to 350 million Real Christmas Trees currently growing on Christmas Tree farms in the U.S. alone, all planted by farmers.
- North American Real Christmas Trees are grown in all 50 states and Canada. Eighty percent (80%) of artificial trees worldwide are manufactured in China, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
- Real Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead.
- There are more than 4,000 local Christmas Tree recycling programs throughout the United States.
- For every Real Christmas Tree harvested, 1 to 3 seedlings are planted the following spring.
- There are about 350,000 acres in production for growing Christmas Trees in the U.S.; much of it preserving green space.
- There are close to 15,000 farms growing Christmas Trees in the U.S., and over 100,000 people are employed full or part-time in the industry.
- It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of typical height (6 – 7 feet) or as little as 4 years, but the average growing time is 7 years.
- The top Christmas Tree producing states are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington.
- The most common Christmas Tree species are: balsam fir, Douglas-fir, Fraser fir, noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine and white pine.
USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) and your local Christmas Tree professional.