With Christmas on the way, tree farm at The Rocks Estate getting busyBy JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent November 29. 2015 10:35PM
BETHLEHEM — With Thanksgiving Day a memory, people’s thoughts are turning to Christmas, which for many will mean a trip to The Rocks Estate to find the perfect tree.
One of about 200 tree farms in New Hampshire, The Rocks Estate is the North Country Conservation and Education Center of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. The 1,400-acre Rocks Estate includes buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it offers agri- and eco-tourism opportunities.
For the past 30 years, facility director Nigel Manley has been growing Christmas trees there. He said proceeds from sales are “hugely important” to The Rocks Estate’s bottom line and its goal of being self-sustaining.
Currently, The Rocks Estate has some 52,000 trees under cultivation — which places it in the small- to medium-class of Granite State growers. This year’s goal is to sell more than 3,000 trees through a combination of wholesale, mail order and cut-your-own.
Separately, The Rocks Estate will donate several hundred trees to the national Trees for Troops initiative, which Manley is chairing.
In 2014, participating tree farms provided 19,000 trees that were delivered, both domestically and abroad, by FedEx to American servicemen, women and their families. Manley hopes to boost that number to 21,000 this year. Gov. Maggie Hassan is expected to come to The Rocks Estate on Tuesday to help load its contribution of trees onto the truck.
The Rocks Estate opened for the season Nov. 22 — the date is determined by the third hard frost of the fall — and business has been good. The Rocks Estate and its gift shop will be open daily, through Christmas Eve, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Guests can enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride through the estate on Dec. 5 and 6, Dec. 12 and 13, and Dec. 19. Reservations are strongly recommended. The Rocks Estate’s “Green Father Christmas” will visit the farm Dec. 5 and 12.
“The holidays are a busy time of year at The Rocks, and a magical one,” Manley said. “We all get swept up in the spirit of the season. It’s wonderful to welcome new customers each season and to see others who have been coming to the farm to pick their tree for years and years.”