Love a Real Tree this Christmas and Support the Jack and Jill Foundation

Christmas Tree Growers donate 500 trees to Jack & Jill Foundation
Wicklow grower, Christy Kavanagh, has been crowned the Christmas Tree Grower Supreme Champion 2014 in the national Christmas tree growing competition. This is the fifth time that Christy has received the accolade for his Nordmann Fir range in the annual competition organized by the Christmas Tree Growers Association. As an experienced and avid grower, he is enthusiastic about the benefits real Christmas Trees bring to the celebrations, noting that the Nordmann Fir is the most popular type of tree, accounting for 75% of trees sold in Ireland.

The Christmas tree harvest is currently underway due to excellent growing and favourable harvesting conditions, according to the Irish Christmas Tree Growers.  Bord Bia estimates that approximately 500,000 trees will be harvested this year by Irish growers, 300,000 for the home market and 200,000 for export, mainly to the UK.

‘Love a Real Tree’ Campaign

This Christmas, the Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association has launched a new initiative, ‘Love a Real Tree’, to highlight the benefits of choosing a real Christmas tree for your home. This new campaign was developed to include a logo and website (www.lovearealtree.ie) which highlight the benefits of a real tree versus and an artificial tree, in particular that real Irish Christmas trees are environmentally friendly as they can be recycled, while the land used for growing them can be replanted or returned to traditional agriculture.

Speaking about the campaign, Christy Kavanagh said, “The look, the scent and the very feel of a real tree are all part of the Christmas tradition! Growing the perfect tree takes more than planting a tree and hoping for the best. It takes seven to ten years to produce a 2 metre tall tree, and this means year round care for the life of the tree by growers to produce the best tree possible. When you buy a real Christmas tree, carefully grown and cultured locally, there is that extra special knowledge that you are supporting nature and the environment.”

The Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association represents the major body of producers and suppliers of top grade Christmas Trees in Ireland, with over 100 members nationwide. Ireland has developed a solid reputation for the production of high quality trees for both the domestic and export Christmas tree market.

 Christmas Trees 1
Christy Kavanagh of the Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association

Christmas Tree Growers Donate 500 trees to Jack & Jill Foundation
The Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association is donating 500 four foot Irish grown Christmas trees to the children’s charity, Jack and Jill Foundation. These trees will be used by the charity to stage a one day giveaway on Saturday, 6th December at two locations; Leopardstown Racecourse and Newbridge Retail Park. The trees are available for an on the spot donation of €16 and are ideal for apartments, offices or smaller rooms. 

About the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation
The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation was founded by Jonathan Irwin and his wife Senator Mary Ann O’Brien based on their own experience caring for their son Jack at home until he passed away in December 1997. This experience became the blue print for the Jack & Jill model of home nursing care which supports 300 children with severe disabilities as a result of brain damage today and the Foundation has supported over 1,800 families (county breakdown below) since 1997. The service includes funding, home visits, advice, information, lobbying and bereavement support and up to 64 hours of home nursing care per month at a cost of €1,024 per family.  It also includes end of life care of up to 80 hours per month at a cost of €1,280 with a clear focus of supporting parents who decide to take their child home to die. Jack & Jill requires €2.7 million per annum to operate this critical service and, with less than 20% coming from the State, the Foundation depends on the generosity of the public to keep going and on wonderful fundraisers like this, with every €16 raised funding 1 hour of home nursing care.

 Christmas Trees 2
Christy Kavanagh with Jonathan Irwin from the Jack and Jill Foundation

Your Guide to Choosing a Real Christmas Tree

The Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association’s top Tips for Buying your Christmas tree:

Try not to buy your Christmas tree until you are ready to set it up. In many countries, such as France, the Christmas tree is not set up until Christmas Eve and taken down after January 6th.

After you bring your Christmas tree home, keep it in a cool place like an unheated garage, porch or patio until you are ready to bring it indoors.

Set it up in a cool area (less than 15 centigrade) and as far away as possible from sources of heat including fireplaces, radiators and vents. This will prolong the life of the tree for the holiday season.

Place it in a “water stand”. Most Christmas tree sellers have these available. The stand has a wide   base and bolts for giving the tree stability, and a basin for water to keep your tree fresh.

Just before standing your tree in the water stand, you should make a fresh saw-cut, straight across the stem, at least 3 cm above the original cut. This fresh cut allows the tree to absorb water easily.

Check out your local County Council website for Christmas Tree Recycling locations near you.

Irish Christmas Tree Facts

Production is mainly concentrated in counties Wexford, Carlow, Wicklow, Tipperary and Cork where soils and climate combine to produce high yields.

Approximately 8 million trees of all ages are currently growing on circa. 1, 500 hectares

There are approximately 10 significant producers and 70 to 80 smaller growers.

The farm gate value of current domestic and export sales is estimated at €10 million, plus retail values of €25 million

The three most popular varieties of Christmas tree are the Nordmann Fir (accounting for 75% of trees sold in Ireland), the Noble Fir (accounting for 15% of trees sold in Ireland) and the Lodgepole Pine.

Love a Real Tree

Why buy a real Christmas Tree?

Locally grown Christmas trees are really fresh due to the reduced travel stress on them.

There is a tremendous variety and a large range of different size trees available to meet your particular needs.

Once cared for properly, non-shedding trees, such as the Normann Fir, Noble Fir and Lodgepole Pine, will not lose their needles.

Each tree is cultured as an individual tree and produced to the highest quality standards from the time they are planted right through to delivery.

Your real Christmas tree is a natural resource and therefore can be recycled.  This is in contrast to artificial trees, which are usually made of metal and plastic materials and use oils and minerals in their manufacture.  An artificial tree may last up to six years in your home but takes centuries to break down in landfill sites.

The forest environment is protected by the fact that Christmas trees are continually being planted to replace those trees being harvested.

As well as adding to the beauty of our landscape, growing Christmas trees produces large amounts of oxygen and removes the harmful carbon dioxide or “greenhouse gas” from our atmosphere.  Real trees also provide natural habitats for forest animals and birds.

All the funds raised go to the charity with each €16 donation accounting for one hour of home nursing care for one Jack and Jill baby. Visit www.jackandjill.ie for more information.

For more tips on buying and caring for your real Christmas tree, visit www.lovearealtree.ie.

Zack

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About IrishFoodGuide

Zack Gallagher. News about Food in Ireland, Food Producers & Irish Food Tourism. Chef, Food Blogger, Failte Ireland Food Ambassador. On the #WildAtlanticWay @IrishFoodGuide on Twitter
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