Story by Kathleen Wilson
NYS Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball cut the Christmas tree for the State Capitol’s Senate Staircase at Emmerich Tree Farm in Warwick. The tree-cutting ceremony was held on Tues., Nov. 21 on the pavilion overlooking thousands of firs, pines, and spruces as Mary Jeanne Packer, New York Christmas Tree Farmers Association (CTFANY) welcomed Commissioner Ball.
The Commissioner thanked Kurt and Karen Emmerich for hosting the event and presented a certificate to Emmerich Tree Farms acknowledging the farm as the first in the State to be accepted into the New York Grown & Certified Program.
New York State is home to approximately 900 tree farms, ranking fourth largest in the nation. Commissioner Ball cited that while attending a Cabinet meeting, the Governor said he wanted a program to promote New York producers who are environmentally conscious and follow food safety guidelines.
“Local is so important and it’s important to celebrate local family owned and run farms,” said Ball.
CTFANY certification criteria is focused on environmental stewardship as well as food safety on farms. The program bridges the gap between consumers and locally branded products and promotes Agritourism in Orange County. For more information, visit www.certified.ny.gov.
Local, State, and County officials and representatives also attended the event and included Orange County Tourism, along with Ryan Zygmunt, Community Relations Director from Assemblyman Karl Brabenec’s office; Town of Warwick Councilman Floyd DeAngelo; Town Supervisor Mike Sweeton; Conor Gillis from State Senator John J. Bonacic’s office; and Lisa Koumjian from Commissioner Ball’s office.
Hudson Valley Field Advisor, Renee Schoonmaker from NY Farm Bureau also attended the event as well as members of the NYS Grown & Certified Program including Jessica Brooks, Program Manager; Theresa Sweeney, Excelsior Fellow; and Judy Littrell, Conservation Outreach Coordinator.
“They are the translators between Ag research and the farm,” said Maire Ullrich from Cornell University Cooperative Extension.
The program is part of the Land Grant System focusing on agriculture and helping farmers with issues and problems they experience. They also host Christmas tree programs, field meetings, and classroom programs. For more information, visit www.cceorangecounty.org.
The entire group, along with news and television reporters, headed in to the field in search of the perfect tree and, after some deliberation and guidance from Kurt Emmerich and Mary Jeanne Packer, the Commissioner chose a beautiful Douglas-fir that stood more than eight feet in height.
The Commissioner is credited with cutting the first Christmas tree of the season. The tree was transported to Albany where it will adorn the majestic Senate Staircase. The tree is truly resplendent and New York State Grown & Certified!
Emmerich Tree Farm opened its 2017 season on Fri., Nov. 24. The farm has approximately 20,000 Christmas trees, 10,000 in the field and 10,000 in the beds. The farm is located at 101 Sleepy Valley Rd. in Warwick.