For the third year, the Upper Mountain Research Station served as a staging ground for Trees for Troops. The station collected more than 300 trees to be delivered by FedEx to military families at Fort Gordon Army Base in Georgia.
This program is supported by the N.C. Christmas Tree Association and their member farms, with help from ROTC students in Ashe and Alleghany counties, Alleghany County 4-H students and the Avery County Cooperative Extension Center.
The Upper Mountain Research Station supports the program by providing storage space for the trees upon drop off by farmers, a staging area for loading the trees and use of equipment.
“There is a bit of a tree shortage this year but the growers still donated,” said Tracy Taylor, Upper Mountain Research Station superintendent. “The tree growers were already in a generous Christmas spirit.”
About 40 farmers support the Trees for Troops program. The N.C. Christmas Tree Association has been a proud supporter of the program since 2005. Since then, N.C. Christmas tree farmers have donated more than 15,000 trees to military families.
“This year we were just sending trees to Fort Gordon,” said Jennifer Green with the N.C. Christmas Tree Association. “However, we had so many donations that we were also able to send 317 trees to Fort Benning in Georgia, too.” A total of 840 trees were donated between the Upper Mountain Research Station location and the Avery County Cooperative Extension Center location.
Trees for Troops is just one way the Upper Mountain Research Station supports its community. The station donates commodities grown at the station to FFA and Ashe County 4-H to sell to raise money to attend national conferences. Produce is also provided to the Sparta Food Closet, Ashe Really Cares, Meals-on-Wheels and the Society of St. Andrews to help feed those is need in the community.
The station also plays a role in helping its community during disasters, the most recent was assisting other research stations with providing a Thanksgiving dinner to those fighting the 2016 wildfires in Western N.C.