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Make It A Real Michigan Christmas: Growers Push To Buy Local

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – It’s the busiest time of year for holiday decorating and Christmas tree shopping. That’s why growers and small business owners in Michigan are making a push this season for consumers to not only buy a real Christmas tree and poinsettia, but make sure it was grown right here in Michigan.

The Michigan Christmas Tree Association, Michigan Floriculture Growers Council and Michigan Floral Association, in cooperation with Michigan State University Department of Horticulture, AgBioResearch (formerly Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station), are encouraging Michigan residents to  join their campaign, Make it a Real Michigan Christmas, this holiday.

This is the second year for the campaign and they’re hoping consumers will take notice.

Currently, Michigan ranks third in the U.S. in the number of trees harvested, with no other state producing more Christmas tree varieties,
and ranks seventh in poinsettia production, having grown 2.1 million plants in 2011. Michigan Christmas tree and poinsettia growers are at a critical juncture in their businesses, however, as sales are slow and declining.

“We are trying to really pull money into our economy in West Michigan.  A lot of our trees are coming from Michigan tree farms and  I think it is this idea that all the money you spend stays here in the community and stay with the people you see everyday,” said Katey Romence, owner of Romence Gardens and Greenhouses located at 265 Lakeside Drive Ne in Grand Rapids.

Local growers want to see more people decide to have real tree this season instead of a fake tree. The growers want to encourage people, if they are going to buy a real tree, to make sure its grown in Michigan and not shipped in from out of state so that their Christmas helps boost the local economy.

“There are just some amazing tree farmers here in Michigan that have been adapting the trees, so you can ask. Simply ask is this a Michigan grown tree and they’ll tell you.”

Inside the Romence greenhouse, they offer a variety of native Michigan trees, wreaths, and an entire greenhouse of poinsettias that they start growing in the spring.

“Poinsettias a are a native  to more warmer climates,  so they don’t like to be packed on a truck. It’s either too cold or  too hot so I think you are always key to buy a poinsettia that hasn’t had a  lot of travel time, so again buying here in Michigan,” said Romence.

Buyer Tips:

Christmas Trees
• Give the tree a small shake. A few falling brown needles are common, but falling green needles warn that the tree is dry.
• Gently grasp a branch and pull it toward you. Only a few needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh.
• Avoid trees with stiff needles that are losing their color.
• Look for the Make it a Real Michigan Christmas tag, or ask if it’s a Michigan grown tree.

Poinsettias
• Use your produce buying skills and look for fresh leaves and full plants.
• Choose bracts (modified leaves) that don’t have any green on them.
• Do not choose plants with a large number of fallen or yellowed leaves.
• The poinsettia should look full, balanced and attractive from all sides.
• Choose plants that are not drooping or wilting.
• Look for the Make it a Real Michigan Christmas tag, or ask if it’s a Michigan poinsettia.

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