At home we always have a real Christmas tree; it wouldn’t be the same without one, a minister has recently outlined.

At a visit to Rathcon Christmas Tree Farm, the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Andrew Doyle, encouraged people to buy a real Irish Christmas tree this year.

Highlighting how society has become so much more aware of the negative impact plastic is having on our environment, Minister Doyle said: “I believe choosing a real Irish tree over a plastic tree is a conscious decision for most Irish families this year.”

Commenting on the market, Minister Doyle explained how consumers now demand a high-quality tree and noted that grower’s skills have really improved in recent years.

The Page family have been growing Christmas trees on their farm at Rathcon, west Wicklow, since the late 1980s when they decided to diversify away from traditional mixed farming enterprises.

“Managing the Christmas tree crop is a year-round task involving a significant time commitment.”

This year, the Irish Christmas Tree Growers’ Association is continuing its ‘Love a Real Tree Campaign’ which encourages consumers to purchase a local real tree as opposed to an imported artificial tree.

Trees grown by members of the Irish Christmas Tree Growers’ Association carry a ‘Real Irish Christmas Tree’ label.

This label guarantees that the tree has been grown in accordance with the association’s code of good practice, resulting in quality trees being produced in an environmentally-friendly manner.

“Around 600,000 Irish Christmas trees are expected to be harvested this year with a third of these exported, mainly to the UK, where Irish trees occupy a premium part of the market.

“Irish consumers can be assured that they are buying the freshest and the best when they buy an Irish tree.”

Concluding, Minister Doyle said: “Real Christmas trees are more environmentally friendly, carbon neutral and everyone who buys an Irish tree is supporting Irish farmers and contributing to providing jobs in rural Ireland.”