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 d├ęcor 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