The CLA and Grown in Britain are encouraging the public to buy locally-grown Christmas trees this festive season, in a bid to support rural businesses and boost the environment by cutting ‘tree miles’.
Christmas trees are bought in a relatively short period, usually starting from the first weekend of December. But of course the trees require care throughout the year, which has been particularly challenging with the weather conditions experienced in 2018, so that they keep the correct shape, with no distortions and are in perfect health for harvesting.
CLA South East represents thousands of landowners, farmers and rural businesses in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight.
Regional Director Robin Edwards said: “Buying a locally grown tree means that it may only have been cut a short time before arriving at the retailer, reducing the likelihood of needle drop. Treating the tree with respect by placing it in a water bearing stand and keeping it topped up with water is also important.
“Buying local, whether it is Christmas trees or other seasonal festive produce, helps to contribute to a vibrant rural economy. There is certainly a wide variety of suppliers of local products in our area, from fruit and vegetable growers to award-winning sparkling wine producers.
“Many people will already be regular visitors to farm shops and farmers markets across the county. These businesses provide jobs, goods and services for local communities, attract tourism and provide a real boost to our economy.
“Small Business Saturday, a campaign which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to shop local, takes place on the first Saturday in December. It provides an important impetus for consumers to support small businesses in their communities, not just in the run up to Christmas, but throughout the year.”
Hole Park, near Rolvenden in Kent, has been growing trees for the last 60 years.
From small beginnings as a by-product of estate forestry, it is now a dedicated specialist grower whose business ethos is to provide fresh home grown trees to the UK market, for both wholesale or retail.
The estate’s Edward Barham, a CLA member, said: “As well as popular Nordmann and the traditional Norway, we grow a range of other tree species which may not have the same commercial success as their mass production brothers but add a diversity and variety to our offer.
“While we do retail a few trees, our business is primarily to supply a strong customer base of farm shops, greengrocers and traders in the South East.”
Grown in Britain chief executive Dougal Driver said: “The UK has a flourishing Christmas tree growing sector, and buying a home grown tree will support rural businesses in Britain and help reduce ‘tree miles’. Last year, £3 million worth of real Christmas trees were imported into the UK, according to Government statistics.
“The Grown in Britain Christmas tree licensing scheme operates throughout the supply chain from growers to retailers and provides the customer with an assurance that the trees are definitely from the UK; grown in a responsible manner with regard to the environment and meet a strict forest floor to shop floor freshness test.”