Snowed out once, Fisher opens state’s choose-and-cut tree season
BLAIRSTOWN — The annual kick-off of choose-and-cut season was set for Dec. 2, but, appropriate for the season, it was snowed out.
Rescheduled for Friday, Dec. 6, the event was held amid the melting snow at Glenview Farm.
Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher congratulated Dan and Colleen Black and Dan’s mother, Helen for having the New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association’s Reserve Grand Champion before he cut a Douglas fir to start the season.
“We are sixth in the nation in Christmas Tree farms,” Fisher said, in spite of New Jersey’s status as the most densely populated state. “Well, not here,” he noted about Northern Warren County.
New Jersey has 5,000 acres in Christmas trees and produces 80,000 trees annually.
Warren County Freeholder Richard Gardner commented on the great view at the base of the Kittatinny Mountains where Glenview Farm is nestled.
Blairstown Mayor Steve Lance welcomed Fisher, Gardner, Freeholder James Kern and others to the farm, saying he knew Helen and her late husband, George, for 35 years. Dan and Colleen now help Helen run the farm although they live during the week in Monmouth County.
Fisher brought a proclamation from Gov. Phil Murphy noting that many tree farmers do what the Blacks did and donate trees to non-profit organizations.
The fir cut by Fisher was donated to Sam’s Hope, an organization that provides activities to young adults with special needs.
Tim Dunne, vice president of the New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association, said Warren County is the “Christmas tree belt,” and credited Warren County Public Information Officer Art Charlton with coining the phrase. He said 10 of the last 12 grand champion trees were from Warren County.
Fisher noted the first Christmas tree farm opened in 1901 in Trenton and trees sold for $1 each.
The Blacks served hot chocolate and doughnuts to the visitors, which included other Blairstown officials and members of the Black family.
Also present was Cindy Penna who started Sam’s Hope for her 18-year-old, special-needs son. She said as special needs children age out of the school system they find themselves with few resources.
Sam’s Hope plans activities, generally at the Knowlton Presbyterian Church, for these young people and, starting in January, will hold a coffee house two Friday night’s a month, according to Sam’s sister, Stephanie Penna.
She said the ultimate goal of Sam’s Hope is to acquire a house where young people like Sam can live, “so they can be themselves.”
Cindy Penna said she has been providing activities for Sam and his friends for about two years with goal to see them live as independently as possible.
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