Summary: If you celebrate Thanksgiving with a traditional meal of turkey, ham, sweet potatoes and all the fixings, then you are celebrating North Carolina agriculture and North Carolina farmers as well. North Carolina agriculture is a top producer of much of the traditional holiday fare.
I was in Ashe County this past week for the send off of the White House Christmas tree from Rusty and Beau Estes’ farm in Jefferson and it was a grand event.
Well wishers lined the streets, the truck carrying the tree was led in by a team of ponies and a lot of people made speeches – including county and chamber of commerce officials, representatives of state and Congressional leaders and me! And, I almost forgot to mention there was cake, too.
It was fun day, and most importantly, it was a great way to recognize the considerable contributions the Christmas tree industry makes in Western North Carolina. And particularly the top tree-growing counties of Ashe, Avery, Alleghany, Watauga and Jackson.
I told those gathered that I am never surprised when a North Carolina tree is selected for the White House because I believe the prettiest trees come from right here in our state.
I know that I am a bit partial, but there is a reason that with this latest tree, a total of 14 North Carolina Christmas trees have graced the White House since 1971 with their beauty and fragrant bouquet.
Our Christmas tree growers raise truly exceptional trees, including the Fraser fir, which is often called the Cadillac of Christmas trees.
This year’s tree was 19 and a half feet tall and had been growing for 30 years.
Interestingly, this was not the first time the father and son team has sent a tree to the White House. Trees from the Estes farm made their way to Washington D.C. in 2008 and 2012, so it seems they have a knack for growing eye-catching trees.
I am incredibly proud of North Carolina’s Christmas tree industry.
We are the second largest producers of Christmas trees nationally, raising about 20 percent of Christmas trees in the country.
I encourage listeners to go ahead and get their trees early this year for best selection. I saw trucks loaded with Christmas trees headed East down the mountain and I have even seen some already at local grocery stores.
Wherever you shop for your tree, take pride in knowing that you are supporting North Carolina farmers by buying local.
The same goes for the Thanksgiving meal, too!
If you plan to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast with turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, greens and other fixings and desserts, you will most likely be enjoying some food raised right here in North Carolina.
Just in time for Thanksgiving, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service pointed out that in 2020, North Carolina ranked No.1 in pounds of turkey produced at 1 billion 134 million pounds. I think it’s fair to say that’s a lot of turkey.
It’s a safe bet that your turkey, ham or sweet potatoes are likely from a North Carolina farm since we are No. 1 or No. 2 in production of those commodities.
Hams — We rank No. 2 in the nation in hog production at 19.6 million head of hogs.
Sweet potatoes –We are No. 1 in the nation for sweet potato production, with 61.1 percent of the total U.S. crop being produced in North Carolina.
Eggs -We produce $451 million worth of eggs or over 4.07 billion eggs.
I am proud that North Carolina agriculture figures so prominently in so many families’ holiday meals and traditions.
So, this Thanksgiving, when you are saying what you are grateful for, please be sure to add North Carolina farmers in there for helping create so many wonderful lifetime memories.
This may not be the last time I talk about Christmas trees this year, but I wanted to take a minute to recognize the Estes family for representing North Carolina with the White House Christmas tree. And, I also want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!