Local tree headed to NYC’s Lincoln Square

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WEST LEYDEN — Balsam Acres Christmas Tree Farm, 1703 Fish Creek Road, will be sending a tree to New York City’s Lincoln Square this holiday season. The tree will be cut on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

The tree will be cut and prepared for shipping on Nov. 12, then loaded for delivery early the following day.

The farm’s Bruce Wilbert is a member of the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of NY, which is how this all came about, explained his wife, Kathy.

“The Lincoln Square tree symbolizes the return of the New York Christmas tree farmer to the New York City marketplace. New York’s tree farmers lost market share over the past 25 years for a lot of different reasons, to the point where it is almost impossible for a New York City resident to buy a locally grown New York Christmas tree.”

This is a test program the farmers put together to reverse this trend, she said. “The focus of this campaign is to bring an upstate product to a downstate customer. That is why this simple tree has such significance.”

The Lincoln Square event is called Winter’s Eve. Information can be found at www.winterseve.nyc. The farm’s tree was selected to be the centerpiece of the event. Trees from Connecticut or Nova Scotia have been selected for the past few years, Kathy Wilbert said.

Balsam Acres Tree Farm started about 70 years ago when Bruce’s father, Norbert Wilbert, bought the farm and started cutting trees around the edge of the woods. Balsam Fir trees naturally grow in the region. For a number of years, none of the trees were sheared, so they would just cut the best trees they could find in the woods. Then around 1970, Norbert and Bruce started planting the fields into plantations of Christmas trees. It was about this time that trees were being sheared. The farm is about 500 acres, of which about 120 are planted with Christmas trees at this time. Only Balsam and Fraser Fir are grown on the farm. “The winters up here are too severe for most other types,” Kathy said.

Bruce Wilbert grew up on the farm, and then went off to college and worked in the corporate world for a number of years, while still running the farm with his father. About 10 years ago, Bruce and Kathy moved to Rome, and Bruce has been running the farm full-time with his father, who passed away in June at age 97. Bruce is expanding the farm, and has a number of trees that are in different stages of growth.

“We are really excited that other areas of the state are partnering with New York growers to buy trees grown in New York State,” Kathy noted.

“We are extremely proud to have a tree that has been selected to go to Lincoln Square this year for Winter’s Eve,” she said.

“We also have one buyer from New York City buying 300 trees from us this year, which we are very pleased with. We sell all of our trees throughout New York State. The benefit of buying trees from New York State is that you are buying local, and you are buying fresh.”

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