Governor Shumlin Harvests the Season’s First Christmas Tree
**Editors: Please note hi-res photos are available here: http://bit.ly/1yEEti3
HUNTINGTON -- Vermont’s Christmas tree industry received one of its early customers yesterday when Gov. Peter Shumlin arrived at Purinton’s Christmas Tree Farm in Huntington, Vt., to select and cut a tree for the state Pavilion Office Building in Montpelier. The Governor’s annual tree-cutting event not only signals the start of tree-hunting season for many Vermonters, but also draws some well-deserved attention to Vermont’s robust Christmas Tree Industry, which supplies over 134,000 trees to Vermonters and customers throughout New England and as far away as Bermuda. Gov. Shumlin was joined by farm owner Peter Purinton, his sons Cody and Austin, state Rep. Tom Stevens, and the head of Vermont Agency of Agriculture’s Plant Industry Division, Tim Schmalz, along with several members of the press.
“I’m so proud to continue this annual tradition on such a beautiful Vermont farm,” said Gov. Shumlin. “Being outside surrounded by the natural beauty of Vermont reminds me of all we have to be thankful for this holiday season. I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday.”
Purinton’s Christmas Tree Farm, which planted its first seedlings in 1990, is one of 288 tree farms throughout the state of Vermont that collectively cultivate over 3,600 acres of trees, according to the USDA’s 2012 agricultural census. The Purinton’s Farm is home to over 16,000 trees, mostly Balsam Firs, spread across 14 acres of Huntington hillside. Peter and his family will sell roughly 2,000 trees this holiday season – over half of those will be sold over the course of the two weekends following Thanksgiving. In addition to Christmas trees, the Purinton’s also sell their own pure Vermont maple syrup, maple candy, wreaths, and other holiday greenery hand-crafted by Peter’s wife Carla Purinton.
“It’s just like growing a garden,” says Mr. Purinton. “If you do it right and you focus on growing beautiful, healthy trees, you’ll sell every last one of them. But if your focus is on growing trees to make money, you’ll be in trouble.”
Tim Schmalz and his Plant Industry team from the Agency of Agriculture provide a range of services to the Christmas tree industry, including domestic and international export inspection and certification, as well as technical assistance around pest identification and management.
“The Christmas tree industry is an essential element of our thriving Working Landscape and economy” said Chuck Ross, Secretary of Agriculture. “Tree growers not only promote and preserve Vermont’s cultural heritage, they help ensure our state’s Working Landscape endures for future generations of Vermonters to enjoy.”
Mr. Purinton’s parting advice to the Governor was to “Take good care of it. I’ve taken care of that tree for 8 years and now it’s your turn. Do a good job!”