Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Merry Christmas from The Rocks Estate

At The Rocks, we think the holiday season really is “the most wonderful time of the year!” The farm is bustling with happy activities, as families pick out Christmas trees to bring home for trimming, folks enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides through the Estate, shoppers browse the bursting shelves in our two stores, and the air is filled with holiday cheer.

If you haven’t visited The Rocks yet this season, we invite you to stop by… Both our shops – the Rocks Marketplace and the Farm Store are open daily through Christmas Eve, from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (This Saturday, December 21st, is the last day for wagon rides.) We’re open for tree sales during those hours, as well. So, whether you still need your perfect Christmas tree or you’re looking for a last minute gift, we’re here to help.

In the meantime, for tips on keeping your Christmas tree farm fresh through the holidays, check out this post on our blog. And if you’re wondering what to do with your tree after the holidays, visit this page of the National Christmas Tree Association’s website for recycling tips – and to see some of the cool ways recycled trees are put to use. 

One final note this holiday season ~ from all of us at The Rocks to all of you, may your days be merry and bright. Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A day at The Rocks: Christmas trees, wagon rides, good cheer, and a touch of holiday magic

Meghan McCarthy McPhaul Blogs for The Rocks Estate and the New Hampshire Maple Experience. This is her account of her family's recent visit to The Rocks to select a Christmas tree.

My family makes the quick drive to The Rocks Estate each year to find our Christmas tree. While the experience varies from year to year, it’s always festively fun – and a bit magical.

Last year, the kids tromped happily through the fields to find our perfect tree. I lost track of how many gleeful cries of, “This one is perfect!” we heard before finally settling on the tree we would cut and bring home to trim. There’s a common idiom about “a kid in a candy store”… well, a kid in a field of Christmas trees is just as happy!

On tree seeking day this year it was a bit chilly and windy, even for my hardy North Country kids, so we opted for the easy route and headed to the retail tree lot. There, we found a fantastic selection of already-cut Christmas trees. We hemmed and hawed between the Fraser firs and the Balsam firs and ultimately selected the latter. (We had measured the space our tree holds at home before heading out. These tree selection tips are helpful!)

Each holiday weekend at The Rocks, there is a local group whose members are standing by to help tree seekers (and who happily accept tips to help fund their organizations). Our Christmas tree elves were from Littleton’s Daisy Bronson Middle School Student Council. We showed them which tree we wanted, and they carted it off to be processed for pick-up out front. Other groups helping this year are the sophomore and 8th grade classes from Littleton High School. Inside the Rocks Marketplace, the Profile Booster Club sells beverages and treats for hungry holiday shoppers.  

A visit to The Rocks really feels like a community event!

Before picking a tree, my kids wanted to say hello to the huge horses who pull the wagons carrying visitors around the historic Estate. While time didn’t allow us to take the tour this visit, we’ve enjoyed it in the past, and each time we learn something new about The Rocks from the friendly guides on board. This trip we said hello to the 1,900-pound Sampson and his wagon mate Giovanna. Their handler cheerfully answered our questions about the huge and beautiful horses and their special shoes, which allow them to gain traction in the snow and dirt they work in, both at The Rocks and in their other job – logging the woods of Vermont.

(Reservations are recommended for the wagon rides, although walk-ons are allowed if there is space. To make a reservation, email info@TheRocks.org or check in when you arrive at the farm.)

After selecting our tree, we popped into the Farm Store to peruse the ornaments, wreaths, Rocks Estate maple syrup and other holiday goodies. Next, we headed up to The Rocks Marketplace and all the fantastic holiday fun it holds. From locally made chocolates and pottery to fun home décor and beautiful scarves, the Marketplace is bursting with festive holiday and gift items – and friendly Rocks workers, too! For more about the shops, check out this post

On our way to the Marketplace, we ran into The Rocks’ very own Green Father Christmas, all decked out in his evergreen-hued robe. He approached us and handed each child a small fir tree seedling. We’ll follow the instructions on the attached tag (which also indicated the trees are sponsored by the Bank of New Hampshire) to pot our seedlings through the winter and plant them outside when the ground thaws.

Throughout this year’s outing to The Rocks, we could smell sugar in the air, as the friendly folks from Kingdom Kernel Kettle Corn cooked up fresh batches of their kettle corn. Tradition dictates that we bring a bag of the salty-sweet goodness home along with our Christmas tree, so we stopped in on the way to the car. We sampled their yummy Snickerdoodle flavor, but ultimately stuck with our favorite Maple Kettle Corn.

There are as many ways to enjoy the holiday season at The Rocks as there are visitors to the farm. Some families visit the nearly life-size wooden snowpeople (made locally and available in many sizes for purchase at the Marketplace). Others make a weekend out of their Rocks visit with the Christmas Memories vacation package, offered in conjunction with area inns and hotels. And many folks who have moved away order a Rocks tree or farm-made wreaths for friends and family every year from the online shop.

If you’re lucky enough to visit The Rocks during the holidays and find your perfect Christmas tree, you’re guaranteed a grand time and plenty of holiday cheer!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Rocks and local students team up to spread holiday spirit through Trees for Troops program

The frosty air at The Rocks Estate was filled this morning with the spirit of the holidays – and the sounds of laughter and happy singing – as fifth graders from nearby Bethlehem Elementary School set to work tagging and loading more than 450 Christmas trees onto a FedEx tractor trailer truck at the farm.

The event has become an annual holiday tradition at The Rocks, which serves as the regional distribution center for Trees for Troops, a national program of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation. The trees loaded Tuesday came from tree farms throughout New Hampshire and Vermont and will be distributed by Trees for Troops to U.S. military personnel and their families serving throughout the country and abroad.

“It’s really fun. It’s a great thing to do,” says student Iris Miller-White of the school’s participation in the Trees for Troops effort.

Miller-White is one of a handful of BES 6th graders who joined the 5th grade class to help load trees Tuesday. The students call local businesses to raise donations for the local Trees for Troops effort, collecting about $1,200 each year. They also write tags for each tree, bearing a holiday greeting and the name of the donor.

“It really helps you learn a lot of life lessons,” Miller-White said. “You’re working with your friends and doing something for your community.”

Students donned red and white Santa hats and sang carols while loading the trees into the trailer. FedEx donates all shipping costs for the Trees for Troops program.

The Rocks Estate has been involved with Trees for Troops since its inception in 2005 and donated 54 trees to the program this year.

Some 750 Christmas tree farms from throughout the country participate in Trees for Troops. This year the program has a goal of delivering 18,000 trees to military personnel and their families, which would bring the number of trees delivered since 2005 to over 140,000.

In 2008, the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation presented BES with its Community Award for the school’s dedication to the Trees for Troops program.

“The students from Bethlehem Elementary School work hard to reach out to community members and inspire support for the Trees for Troops program,” says Rocks Estate manager Nigel Manley. “We’re happy to have been involved in the program for so many years and to have local community support. Trees for Troops is a great way to share the holiday spirit with members of the military, who give so much to the country and are often away from home during the holidays.”

To learn more about Trees for Troops, visit the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation website

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gifts Galore at The Rocks' Shops

A treasure from the Ginger Cottages line
From whimsical ornaments and handmade wreaths to beautiful glassware and cashmere scarves, the shops at The Rocks Estate are bursting with holiday cheer and gifts galore! So, whether you’re looking for all you need to deck the halls this season, or seeking the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list, The Rocks is your one stop holiday center.

Tucked amidst rows of perfect Christmas trees, shoppers will find two holiday shops at The Rocks: The Rocks Marketplace in our main building and our Farm Store right next to our retail Christmas tree lot.

In the Farm Store, shoppers will find wreaths made by hand at The Rocks, stuffed animals, locally-made Claymation ornaments, and our own Rocks Estate maple syrup.

The shelves in the Marketplace, are filled with myriad gifts, large and small, including many locally- and U.S.A.-made items: gourmet sea salts from Massachusetts-based Beyond the Shaker, deliciously creative marinades and glazes from Vermont’s Wozz! Kitchen Creations, and Serenely sweet chocolate goodies (from caramel cups and s’mores sticks to moose- and bear-shaped pops) from RHD Candy, located just down the road in Lancaster, New Hampshire.

We have stuffed moose and beautifully-crafted jewelry, home décor and pottery made by hand by a former Olympian who lives down the road, Red Neck wine glasses and locally-made jams and jellies.

100% cashmere scarves from Scotland
Early customer favorites this year include a colorful collection of 100% cashmere scarves made in Scotland, and adorable life-like black bears climbing lit trees. An instant hit in our shop this season is the line of intricately crafted and festively fanciful Ginger Cottages. Made in the U.S. by acclaimed artist Glenn A. Crider, the miniature cottages each contain a hidden secret, revealed when lit by a Christmas tree light – adding a touch more magic to the season!

Also new to The Rocks this season is our collection of three-tiered wooden snowpeople. They come in various shapes, sizes, and attire… but we need your help to give them a good name! When you visit The Rocks Marketplace between now and December 8, please jot down a clever name and slip it into the box near the checkout counter. We’ll announce the winning name December 8th, and the person who comes up with the best name will win one of these whimsical, handcrafted snowpeople!

The holidays are in full swing at The Rocks. We’re open daily now through December 24 – for choose-and-cut trees, selecting a pre-cut tree from our retail lot, or browsing our shops. (If you can’t make it to the farm, we have a great online shop, too.) 

The holidays at The Rocks also feature visits from our Green Father Christmas, marshmallow roasting at our fire pit, horse-drawn wagon rides, and more! For details on all the holiday happenings at The Rocks, please check out our online calendar

We hope to see you this holiday season at The Rocks!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Green Father Christmas adds a festive twist to the holiday fun at The Rocks Estate

The Rocks' Green Father Christmas with Nigel Manley
Father Christmas, Jolly Old St. Nick, Santa Claus… call him what you will, this character is an integral part of modern Christmas celebrations. A potpourri of many factual and fictitious characters from various cultures, Santa has become one of the most recognized symbols of Christmas – along with the Christmas tree, of course!

At The Rocks, we introduced a Green Father Christmas in 2008, and he’s returned to the farm every year since during the holidays, spreading the cheer of the season and the hope of brightening days to come. Green Father Christmas will visit The Rocks each Saturday from November 23 thru December 14.

The red-and-white clad Santa who sets visions of sugarplums (and new toys) to dancing through children’s heads is likely the combination of many Christmas legends from various times and customs. He is St. Nicholas dropping coins down chimneys and into stockings, King Frost bringing cold and snow, Father Winter representing the hope of longer days and approaching springtime, Odin delivering gifts on his magical eight-legged horse, and more.

When Nigel Manley, the longtime manager of The Rocks, discovered images of a green-clad Father Christmas carrying evergreen boughs in 2008, he knew this character would be the perfect representative of the holidays at The Rocks. At the farm, Green Father Christmas embodies the joyful and hopeful spirit of the season as well as the importance of land conservation and forest preservation, which are central to our mission as the North Country Conservation & Education Center for the Forest Society.

Once again, The Rocks’ Green Father Christmas will wander the farm this season with his bag filled with fir tree seedlings. These he will give to children, who may bring the seedlings home, tend to them through the winter, and plant them outside once the green of spring replaces winter’s snowy white – a symbol of the lasting joy of Christmas and the hopeful beginnings of days to come!

For more about the holidays at The Rocks, check out the latest news on our website or visit our online calendar.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Locally made items abound at The Rocks

This weekend marks the annual Granite State-wide New Hampshire Open Doors event, where shops and businesses throughout the state celebrate the bounty of goodies made, grown, and produced in New Hampshire. The Rocks is proud to participate in NH Open Doors, and even prouder to offer an array of locally-made items in our shops EVERY day!
Name our snowpeople... and win one!

There’s no better time to browse through the offerings at The Rocks Marketplace and Farm Store than NOW, when our shelves are brimming with holiday gifts and decorations.

One of our favorite locally-made items this season is our NEW three-tiered wooden snowpeople. They come in various shapes, sizes, and attire… but we need your help to give them a good name! When you visit The Rocks Marketplace between now and December 8, please jot down a clever name and slip it into the box near the checkout counter. We’ll announce the winning name December 8th, and the person who comes up with the best name will win one of these whimsical, handcrafted snowpeople!

Here’s a taste of some of the other NH-made items you’ll find at The Rocks:

* Delicious jams and jellies from White Mountains Canning in Lancaster, NH.

* Serenely sweet chocolate goodies – from caramel cups and s’mores sticks to moose- and bear-shaped pops – from RHD Candy, also of Lancaster.

* The Worlds Greatest Cheddar Cheese from Harman’s Cheese and Country Store, just up the road in Sugar Hill.

* Pancake mixes from the widely famous Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill. 

* Intricately lovely glass tree ornaments made by Bouquette Jones, and angel ornaments by Melissa Jones, all made right here in Bethlehem, NH.

* Jewelry from Colorful Creations in Dover, NH. 

* Hand-made, hand-painted pottery – as attractive as it is useful – by former Olympic ski racer Joan Hannah, of Sugar Hill.

* Savory granola from Sharon’s Granola of Derry, NH, in gluten free flavors like caramel pear and maple walnut.

* Our very own Rocks Estate Maple Syrup, made right here at The Rocks!

So c’mon in to The Rocks to get your festive on and cross a few names off your holiday gift list. Our shops are open daily from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and we open for choose-and-cut Christmas Tree sales November 23.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mail order holidays ~ Christmas made easy at The Rocks

Golden Angle Wreath
The Rocks Estate is in full holiday swing! Yes, we realize it’s still only October, but our online shop is hopping! 

We know many holiday fanatics – like us – want to get started early. So, our online shop is designed to be super shopper-friendly (complete with FREE shipping on all items) to help make your holidays fun and easy – whenever you’re ready to get started on bringing the holidays home.

If you’ve ordered from The Rocks online shop before, you know you can order a Rocks Estate Christmas tree anytime between now and the holidays and pick the date you’d like your fresh, fragrant, farm-grown tree delivered right to your doorstep.

But it’s not just about the trees… At The Rocks online shop, you’ll find a festive selection of holiday wreaths, from classic to cute, along with garland, gifts, and accessories galore! If you’re in the market for a handmade wreath (or a few), check out our new-this-season Whimsical Wreath and Golden Angel WreathAnother new treat now available online is our very own Rocks Estate maple syrup, made right here at The Rocks and available by the half-pint, pint, or quart.

Our online shop also offers accessories to make keeping your tree fresh and fragrant through the holidays simple, including a longtime customer favorite tree stand (be sure to ask for your tree to be drilled) and our watering spout (makes filling the reservoir a cinch – no more crawling through limbs and gift boxes!). 

Visit The Rocks online shop today – or whenever you’re ready – and get your holidays started!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bus Touring at The Rocks Estate

While winter – and finding the perfect Christmas tree – is the most famous season at The Rocks Estate, fall foliage season is quickly catching on, as visitors enjoy the kaleidoscopic colors of autumn at the Estate and on the surrounding hills and mountains. Often, the fall visitors arrive via tour bus, and it used to be that the bus would pull in, the tourists would unload, take a few photos, climb back on board, and head to the next pretty destination.

Now, more buses (nearly 60 this year!) are coming to The Rocks, and the bus tourists are staying longer and experiencing The Rocks more fully – whether through guided tours of the property or expert-led discussions of the wildlife living in and around this historic 1,400-acre property, now the North Country Conservation & Education Center for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

Each group chooses a personalized visit to the Estate and is invited to select from a list of natural history programs. The most popular of these is a visit to the New Hampshire Maple Experience and Museum, housed in one of the many history buildings at The Rocks that have been carefully restored for modern use. The Maple Experience includes a virtual tour of the maple sugaring process, which happens in the spring when the sap flows through the sugar maple trees at The Rocks and is collected to make maple syrup. (Visitors are also welcome to visit the gift shop, where they’ll find maple syrup, along with an array of other great gifts!)

A group of visitors from the Midwest at The Rocks.
Other popular group programs at The Rocks include the moose & bear talks led by the Estate’s manager, Nigel Manley, who is an avid outdoorsman, and the Gardens of Yesteryear program, which uses hand-colored slides from 1933 to illustrate the timeless beauty of the formal gardens still maintained at The Rocks.

Whether you’re arriving via tour bus, or coming with your family to enjoy a picnic and tag-your-own tree, we hope you’ll visit The Rocks this fall and enjoy the beauty of autumn in New Hampshire!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Time to Tag-Your-Own Christmas Tree at The Rocks Estate!

A tagged tree in the field
At The Rocks Estate, we believe it’s never too early to start thinking about – and planning for – the winter holidays! On that note, we open this weekend for Tag-Your-Own tree festivities, complete with early holiday shopping, Christmas tree tagging, and the North Country’s magnificent fall foliage.

Once again, The Rocks will be open to Tag-Your-Own tree seekers autumn weekends, from September 28 & 29 through October 19 & 20. Visitors are invited to roam the fields at The Rocks in search of the perfect Christmas tree, “tag” it with their own decorations and personal flair, and return when we open for the traditional holiday season (November 23-December 24) to cut and purchase their tagged trees.

Fall color on Christmas Lane at The Rocks
Both the Marketplace at The Rocks and The Rocks Farm Store will be open during Tag-Your-Own weekends, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Shoppers are sure to find gifts for everyone on their “Nice” list, as well as festive decorations for the holidays. The shops feature an array of U.S.-made, locally-crafted, and Fair Trade items, from hand-painted ornaments and balsam-inspired soaps and candles to local jams and jellies and The Rocks’ own maple syrup.

Autumn is a beautiful time to visit The Rocks and take in the kaleidoscopic colors of the surrounding landscape. Beyond Tag Your Own tree seeking and getting a jump on holiday shopping, autumn at The Rocks is a great time to check out the New Hampshire Maple Experience, wander our extensive trails system, and learn more about The Rocks by taking a self-guided Mobile Tour of this picturesque property owned and maintained by the Society for the Protection of NewHampshire Forests

Learn more at TheRocks.org