Karen Finogle (603) 224-9945
rocks estate receives farm of distinction award
Christmas tree farm honored by Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food
BETHLEHEM – The Rocks Estate in Bethlehem was one of nine working farms in New Hampshire designated a Farm of Distinction by the Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food at a ceremony held on Saturday, February 7, at the annual N.H. Farm and Forest Expo in Manchester.
Since the award program began in 1997, 64 farms throughout the state have been honored with this title. This year, 33 farms were nominated. An independent panel composed of agricultural leaders in the state, historic preservationists, and the general public made their selections after on-site visits and reviews of photographs taken in-season at each farm.
To earn the title Farm of Distinction each nominee must be a working farm with commercial operations. Winners are selected based upon how neat and attractive they keep their busy farmsteads, thereby portraying a positive image for New Hampshire agriculture to the public. The panel of judges evaluates several items, including if equipment is kept under cover; supplies are neatly stored; fences, stonewalls and buildings are kept up; and whether or not good agricultural practices are followed for the storage of manure, handling of fertilizer, livestock conditions, etc. The farms must also have a sign in a visible location identifying the operation to the public.
The Rocks Estate, which is owned and operated by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, qualified in all categories in regards to its Christmas tree operation.
“Boiled down to one sentence, it is a place that makes people driving by stop and say, ‘Wow! That’s a nice looking farm,’” said Steve Taylor, state agriculture commissioner.
Located on 1,300 acres, The Rocks Estate was donated to the Forest Society in 1978. The Rocks’ staff works with 55,000 Christmas trees in the ground and ships trees and wreaths throughout the country each holiday season. The farm is open to the public year-round offering picnic areas and approximately six miles of self-guided scenic and educational trails for hiking, cross country skiing or snowshoeing.
The Rocks Estate also offers educational programs for the public. Upcoming events include maple-sugaring weekends on March 13, 20 and 27 and a wildflower festival on June 5. For more information on The Rocks, please visit www.therocks.org or call 603-444-6228.
The eight other Farms of Distinction winners for 2004 include Davis Brook Farm in Hancock; Emery Farm in Durham; Homestead Farm in Walpole; Pitcher Mountain Farm in Hanover; Rosaly’s Garden in Peterborough; Schroeder Farm in South Newbury; Ascutney View Farm in West Claremont; and Bascom Maple Farm in Acworth.
Founded in 1901, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is a 10,000-member, nonprofit organization that has helped protect more than one million acres. Visit www.forestsociety.org for more information, or call (603) 224-9945.