Buying local often means buying locally grown food, but in December it also can mean buying a Christmas tree from a local grower. Christmas trees are grown in Iowa and all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.
"When you buy from an independent, locally-owned Christmas tree farm, you are investing in the local economy," says Ray Hansen, Iowa State University Extension value added agriculture specialist. "Growers use the income from tree sales to make purchases from other local businesses that continue to strengthen the economic base of the community."
Nationally, the economy is boosted by more than 15,000 Christmas tree growers in the U.S., and over 100,000 people employed full or part-time in the industry. Choose-and-harvest farms have become a popular winter tourism attraction, with more than 5,000 in the United States. There are 100 choose-and-harvest farms in Iowa, according to the Iowa Christmas Tree Growers Association.
To find a local Christmas tree farm, visit Iowa association's website
Christmas tree farms benefit more than the economy, according to the Christmas Tree Farm Network. Christmas tree farms stabilize soil, protect water supplies and provide refuge for wildlife while creating scenic green belts. For every real Christmas tree harvested, three seedlings are planted in its place, which reduces global greenhouse gas effects.
To find a local Christmas tree farm, visit the Iowa Christmas Tree Growers Association website at http://iowachristmastrees.com/farm.php or check out the Christmas Tree farms category on the ISU Extension agritourism "Visit Iowa Farms" web page at www.extension.iastate.edu/VisitIowaFarms/Farms.
For additional resources on buying local, visit the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, a virtual value added agriculture center operated by ISU Extension and partially funded by USDA at http://www.agmrc.org/.