Local Irish food and drink may take pride of place on our Christmas shopping lists, but do we ever give a thought to the origins of the decorations?
It’s something well worth thinking about before we go and lash out a big chunk of money on the perfect Christmas tree…Did you even know that there is an Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association – and that they currently have about 8 million trees of all ages growing mainly in counties Wexford, Carlow, Wicklow, Tipperary and Cork? Amazing but true.
Their new initiative, ‘Love a Real Tree’ (www.lovearealtree.ie), highlights the benefits – both environmental and aesthetic – of having a real Christmas tree. Best of all for most people is the scent and for this you won’t beat the handsome blue-green Noble Fir, which accounts for 15% of trees sold in Ireland. The other two most popular trees are the Nordmann Fir (75%; nick-named the “needle-fast) and the Lodgepole (bright green, with long soft needles). All three are non-shed and, whichever you choose, look out for the ‘Love a Real Tree’ logo.
This Christmas, the Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association is teaming up with the Jack and Jill Foundation, to help generate funds by donating 500 Christmas trees which will be used by the charity in staging a one day giveaway for every on the spot donation of €16 (covers one hour of home nursing care for one baby). All the funds raised on the 6th December go to the charity.
After the Christmas tree, the cheerful red-leaved poinsettia is our most popular live decoration and, after a spell of being out of favour, its star is rising again – we will buy about 280,000 Irish-grown plants this year. Aside from the value of supporting local producers, locally sourced plants are a better buy for practical reasons because poinsettias are fussy about cold and draughts, and so they don’t travel well. They’re demanding plants to grow too, so it will pay to keep an eye out for the Bord Bia Quality Mark on the poinsettias grown by Bord Bia Quality Approved Irish growers.
And, talking of Bord Bia Approved growers, heaven only knows how many crunchy green brussels sprouts we’ll munch our way through over Christmas, but it’s unlikely that very many of them will end up in a cute table decoration like this one made up for fun by the gang at Bord Bia last week. Good idea though – it’s high time the humble sprout got a round of applause.