COVINGTON, Ga. — The longtime owner of a Newton County Christmas tree farm will become the first Georgia grower to help guide a national promotional effort for the product.
Chuck Berry, owner of Berry’s Tree Farm & Nursery west of Covington, has been appointed to serve a three-year term on the U.S. Christmas Tree Promotion Board.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue appointed Berry and four other U.S. tree producers to the board, which oversees a national research and promotion program for the trees.
The board’s purpose is to promote, publicize and educate the public about the trees “while engaging in research to better serve our customers and growers,” according to its website.
Berry said the program operates in a similar promotional fashion as the one that produced classic advertising series like “Got Milk?” for U.S. dairy farmers.
The lifelong farmer is the fifth generation of his family to operate a farm of some sort in 126 years on the site of Berry’s Tree Farm.
He and other members of his family run the 206-acre operation on Mt. Tabor Road in the Almon community.
After operating as a dairy and row crop farm for 80 years, it began converting its crops solely to Christmas trees in 1977 and sold its first trees in 1983, according to its website.
Berry said he has sold more than 2,000 trees this year, marking his best sales season in 20 years.
He attributed the increase to the pandemic prompting many area residents to seek to celebrate a more traditional kind of holiday.
“People are wanting to slow down,” he said.
Berry said he was proud to be the first Georgian on the board because the state is not usually seen as a major producer of the trees compared to states like North Carolina.
He noted the Georgia Farm Bureau was among the individuals and organizations that sent letters of support for his appointment.
Berry joined Roger W. Beyer of Oregon, Michael Cocco of California, Jane M. Neubauer of Ohio, Renee’ Beutell Campbell of North Carolina and Larry Downey of Quebec, Canada, as new appointees.
The 12-member board includes 11 growers representing production in the eastern, central and western regions of the U.S., and one importer member. Each member can serve up to two consecutive three-year terms.
Then-U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack appointed the first board in January 2015. The board is made up of Christmas tree producers representing production in the east, central and west regions of the U.S., along with an importer member.