The past few weeks of Ag in the Classroom have included virtual evergreen lessons with area third grade classes. We began by reading “Christmas Farm” by Mary Lyn Ray.
This is a fictional story of Wilma and her young neighbor, Parker, who decide to grow their own trees so those that do not have their own “back hill” to cut their trees have somewhere to purchase them. The book goes into details regarding the length of time it takes to grow a tree to maturity (approximately 10 years), the many trees naturally lost due to animals and bad weather, and the work that is involved at a tree farm.
The classes were delivered kits for each student. The kits included a felt tree, yarn and different colored beads that represented various things about a Christmas tree:
• Yellow star – represented sunlight needed to grow Christmas trees
• Blue – represented water that the trees need to grow
• Green – represented photosynthesis through the evergreen needles
• Black – represented healthy soil for the tree to grow in
• Red – represented wildlife habitat the Christmas tree provides
• Brown – represented pinecones, and how the trees reproduce
• Pink – represented caring for the environment
• Silver – represented the tools needed for shearing and shaping
• Orange – represented the fallen pine needles wildlife use for bedding
• White – represented the fallen snow that covers the green trees each winter
We weaved the string through holes in the tree adding beads so that it appeared their tree had been strung with multi-colored lights.
Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states with over 400 farms in Illinois alone. Ninety-eight percent of all Christmas trees are grown on evergreen tree farms. More than 2,000 trees are typically planted per acre, but due to things like weather, mice, deer and other pests, 50% of the trees will survive to a mature harvest. One acre of Christmas trees provides the daily oxygen requirements for 18 people!
The students also learned about nine animals that can’t live without their Christmas trees (evergreens provide cover, food, snacks and camouflage for chipmunks, chickadees, deer, woodpeckers, squirrels, owls, black bears, rabbits and eagles). Eighty percent of bald eagles nest in pine trees!
Live Christmas trees have been sold since around 1850 with the first actual tree lot opening in New York in 1851. The first tree in the White House was placed there by Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, in 1856. The National Tree Lighting Ceremony was begun by President Coolidge in 1923. The National Christmas Tree Association has given a Christmas tree to the President and the first family since 1966.
Christmas trees are usually a favorite part of childhood memories. And it is so peaceful to sit in a room that is lit only by your tree. May you all find peace and joy this Christmas. Merry Christmas from all of us at the Cass-Morgan Farm Bureau!
If you are interested in a kit we have a few left. Please contact the Farm Bureau Office at 245-6833.