NH Ag in the Classroom's Newsletter
Gratitude Time
In This Issue
Christmas Trees
The Bookshelf
Quick Links to Lessons

We have activity sheets available via e-mail for grades 1-6. Send us an e-mail with your grade level and we'll forward the appropriate sheets to you.


NOVEMBER 19, 2010 

Annual "NH Grazing Feast"

Join us for an evening of live music, NH Wine & Cheese tasting,
 locally grown, deliciously prepared harvest foods,
and a silent auction, to raise funds for our programs.

You will graze throughout the vineyard's beautiful dining facility, eating a variety of NH foods at each spot and getting a chance to meet the farmer who has grown or produced your evening's food.

 Tickets may be purchased by calling our office at 603-224-1934.

To see more of the vineyard location, log onto

  • Poinsettias are native to Mexico.
  • The Aztecs called the poinsettia Cuetlaxochitl. They made a reddish purple dye from the bracts.
  • Chile and Peru called the poinsettia the "Crown of the Andes."
  • Poinsettias are part of the Euphorbiaceae family. Many plants in this family ooze a milky sap.
  • Some people may have skin irritation from the milky sap
  • In nature, poinsettias are perennial flowering shrubs that can grow to ten feet tall.
  • The showy colored parts of poinsettias that most people think are the flowers are actually colored bracts (modified leaves).
  • Poinsettias are priced according to the number of blooms. The more blooms, the more expensive the plant.
  • The flowers or cyathia of the poinsettia are in the center of the colorful bracts.
  • Poinsettias have been called the lobster flower and flame leaf flower.
  • Poinsettias are not poisonous.
  • A study at Ohio State University showed that a 50 pound child who ate 500 bracts might have a slight tummy ache.
  • A fresh poinsettia is one on which little or no yellow pollen is showing on the flower clusters in the center of the bracts. Plants that have shed their pollen will soon drop their colorful bracts.
  • Poinsettias represent over 85 percent of the potted plant sales during the holiday season.
  • Ninety percent of all poinsettias are exported from the United States.
  • In the 17th century, Juan Balme, a botanist, mentioned poinsettia plants in his writings.
  • Poinsettias were introduced into the United States in 1825 by Joel Poinsett.
  • Poinsettias are commercially grown in all 50 states.
  • California is the top poinsettia producing state.
  • December 12 is National Poinsettia Day.
  • The Paul Ecke Ranch in California grows over 80 percent of poinsettias in the United States for the wholesale market.
  • Ninety per cent of all the flowering poinsettias in the world got their start at the Paul Ecke Ranch.
  • There are over 100 varieties of poinsettias available.
  • $220 million worth of poinsettias are sold during the holiday season.
  • Seventy-four percent of Americans still prefer red poinsettias; 8 percent prefer white and 6 percent pink.
  • Eighty percent of poinsettias are purchased by women.
  • Eighty percent of people who purchase poinsettias are 40 or older.
  • Poinsettias are the best selling flowering potted plant in the United States. In 2004 over 61 million plants were sold.
  • Poinsettias are the most popular Christmas plant even though most are sold in a 6 week period.
  • An NCCA Bowl game in San Diego is named the Poinsettia Bowl.


    Ron Wolford
    Unit Educator, Urban Horticulture and Environment
    Cook County Unit
    Chicago, Illinois
You are invited...
  to attend an OPEN HOUSE at UNH!

The Gala Poinsettia Tree & Greenhouse
Open House

 December 2-4
For more information, 
 David Goodnow
at 862-2061
The Associated Women of NH Farm Bureau will be attending on Friday, December 3rd--this would be a nice time to meet some active women of NHFB...all women members of FB are automatically members of AW...who generously support NHAITC.

Howdy, teachers and Agriculture in the Classroom friends,

We are thankful for all of you who endeavor to open and expand the minds and hearts of our young people,  whether it be in schoolrooms, your homes, your farms and woods, whether it be actually instructing, or sharing your talents and interests directly, or more behind the scenes with other donations of time and gifts.

Hopefully you will  feel we are not rushing the seasons in this issue with Poinsettias  and Christmas trees, both important crops in New Hampshire. It is part of trying to give you more lead time to help you find ideas and access materials in order to  prepare lessons ahead.   We expect you will be  thankful as I was by the feature article from our AITC secretary Maria Vanderwoude and encouraged to believe you too can actually maintain your holiday flowers. Thank you, Maria.  Also thanks to long time friend and AITC board member Marshall Patmos for our bonus piece about Christmas trees.

That is just the beginning. We have provided all kinds of school friendly leads and links to curricula that will not only brighten your classrooms during these shortest days of the year, but will also entice you to get outside to appreciate how much green,  as in evergreen, there is between all the fluffy fall colors and  the  snowy frosting that coats everything over for the winter. 

Can you resist bringing  fragrant  boughs inside  to crown the top of the hutch or fridge, wind around the stairs, frame  doors or windows, or make a table centerpiece to compliment those gorgeous starry blooms?

We aim to facilitate the development of wonder in, exploration of, and appreciation for our amazing world so that no subject ever feels ended, but rather each subject leads onward.  Certainly, modern technology has made this quest so much easier to find information, but we are able to gain the necessary balance with real, down to earth experience.

For instance, since learning a few new facts from our "Talking Turkey"  sidebar in the October newsletter, I seem to be seeing more wild turkeys everywhere I drive and even while riding my Percheron mare. I find myself thinking how I had never seem them in New England  while growing up, in spite of frequent pleasure  drives with my grandparents, always on the lookout for any kind of wildlife.   Spotting a group in the late 80's  was a rare and notable occasion, that grew into figuring out  where their favorite hangouts were, and  then enjoying the rafter as young ones survived.    Now it is almost as unusual to travel through rural areas without  spying wild turkeys, often seeing that they have 2 sets of  hatchlings, and admiring how long they stay a close family. Which leads to thinking about family, especially how much those grandparents taught me, and  proceeds to being thankful, which uplifts me, gives me happiness.  It also turns me further back  in  our history  when turkeys were naturally abundant lifesaving sustenance.

I can't help pondering whether I was so quick to notice the turkeys because of  the newsletter.   We hope that you all will find reminders on these pages that inspire gratitude for our countless blessings. There is so much around us that can prompt us to warm remembrances and gratefulness as we literally reap all varieties of harvests.  

We continue to invite you to partner with us by becoming the liaison for your school or group,  sharing our newsletter and website with your colleagues, letting us know how else we can help.  And we are looking for more schools interested in  hosting farm to school events  and more farms to host school to farm events like the recent one at Ramblin'Vewe Farm in Gilford.

We are accepting donated items for the silent auction to be held during the fundraiser dinner at the Zorvino Vineyards in Sandown on the 19th of November.   How about inviting some of your school boosters to join us for dinner,  live music, and generous bidding fun?                                                           Jozi Best, President


Poinsettias - that most beautiful of Christmas flowers - are considered by many to be the ideal holiday gift!  It doesn't matter how many poinsettias your hostess already has; another one will contribute wonderfully to the décor.  Years ago, poinsettias were extremely fragile, were only available in red and didn't live long after the holidays.  Thanks to research and breeding, however, today's cultivars are stronger, larger, longer-lasting, less light-sensitive and with proper care will continue to brighten the home well into spring.


Did you know that several high schools in New Hampshire grow and sell poinsettias?  Many of the sixteen agricultural education programs in the Granite State have greenhouses, with at least half of them growing this plant.  One such program is at Winnisquam Regional High School in Tilton, where students grow poinsettias from tiny cuttings purchased in August.  Throughout the process, students learn about the care of these beauties, including light and water requirements, fertilization, insect control and temperature needs.


Poinsettias provide plenty of chances to teach math and science.  From determining a production schedule, which includes calculating flower initiation dates, vegetative growth requirements, pinching & transplanting dates and fertilizer ratios to learning about photoperiods, the poinsettia provides an excellent opportunity for student education.


When displaying a poinsettia in the home, it is important to pay a bit of attention to its environment.  Keep it away from drafts and heat sources, make sure it gets at least six hours a day of bright natural sunlight, and water it when the soil feels just dry to the touch.  Poinsettias do best when daytime temperatures remain below 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and above 60 degrees at night.


With careful care, the average poinsettia owner can keep his or her plant healthy and beautiful for many months.  When the colored bracts, or leaves, begin to turn dark or fall off (by early April), cut the stems back to about half their length.  Keep the plant near a sunny window, and, with regular water and fertilizer, you will see new growth by the end of May.


As autumn nears and nights become longer, the poinsettia will begin to set buds and produce color.  In this region of the country, these long-night plants need natural darkness for approximately 12 hours per day beginning October 1st.  Today's cultivars are not as light-sensitive as those of old, but exposure to artificial light may still prevent timely color development.  A dark room or a large box placed over the plant at night will help ensure the proper reflowering of the plant.  Make sure the poinsettia has 6 to 8 hours of bright sunlight every day with night temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  After 8 to 10 weeks of this tender loving care, your poinsettia should once again be beautiful in time for the holidays!


 by Marshall Patmos, Extension Forest Resources Educator Emeritus

Christmas TreeWe're fast approaching a time of the year with many traditions including those of celebrating Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays. There are close to 300 landowners throughout NH that have been working all year to grow and prepare products that are part of many folks' holiday celebrations. They are the Christmas tree farmers who have been growing and tending their trees year round to provide quality Christmas trees, greens and wreaths for the holidays.

Christmas trees and associated products are an agricultural commodity like corn or pumpkins with the major difference being that it takes 8 to 10 years to grow a crop to marketable size instead of just one growing season.  Christmas trees are planted as small seedlings and visited 3 to 4 times per year throughout their growth period for a variety of management activities such as fertilization, weed competition, insect and disease monitoring, shearing and shaping.

There are about 3,000 acres of Christmas trees in the state providing open space, creating vistas and wildlife habitat. The plantations create landscape diversity among the forests and fields of New Hampshire. Christmas tree farms range in size from just an acre or two to more than 100. An estimated 125,000 Christmas trees are harvested each year in the state. While most are sold in NH and New England, NH trees also find their way to many other parts of the country. The methods of sale are: cut your own at the farm, pre-cut at the farm, off farm retail sites, wholesale to retail outlets and mail order (an increasingly popular method) with the annual value of harvested trees and associated products estimated to be about $6 million.

The Christmas tree industry in NH can provide excellent learning opportunities for students and teachers. Its presence in all parts of the state, diverse management components involving concepts of biology, math, economics communication, a host of other scientific and environmental principles and the long-term year-round commitment of those involved make it a very workable topic of a school curriculum. There are a number of resources that can help schools, not the least of which are the Christmas tree farmers themselves. Many growers would be willing to give a tour of their plantation or perhaps even come into school to discuss their farm.

If not familiar with farmers in an area, the UNH Cooperative Extension office in the county can provide information on Christmas trees and any other agricultural commodity. Other informational websites to visit are:
New Hampshire Christmas Tree Promotion Board
New Hampshire-Vermont Christmas Tree Association
The National Christmas Tree Association represents about 5,000 Christmas tree farmers throughout the country and provides a wide assortment of information and facts about the industry and the culture and care of Christmas trees. 
The association has also created teacher guides, curriculum and many student activities related to trees, the environment and Christmas trees. The source of the information and free downloads can be found at their award winning realtrees4kids site.

Marshall Patmos and his wife Pati have been running a cut-your-own Christmas tree operation and Christmas shop in Westmoreland, NH. for 25 years. Before his retirement, Marshall, a NH licensed forester, was UNH Cooperative Extension Forester for Cheshire County and served as UNH Extension Christmas tree specialist. He is currently Chairman of the New England Christmas Tree Alliance, founding member of the NH Christmas tree promotion board and a member of the NH-VT Christmas Tree Association and the National Christmas Tree Association. 


Nature Up Close
Seeds and Seedlings

 by Elaine Pascoe
An excellent resource! The photographs are super and the explanations are scientific (elementary) but clear. Parts would be fine for class read aloud. Excellent plant project guidelines are also included, with detailed, step-by-step instructions.

Christmas Farm
 by Mary Lyn Ray
A sweet story written by a NH author that provides a glimpse into the care of and work on a tree farm.


Christmas Tree Farm  by Ann Purmell
 This is an enchanting book, that sneaks in a lot of science within its Christmas time setting. The skillful combination of story and fact, along with Jill Weber's superb illustrations (acrylic, gouache, and collage) set this apart from other seasonal fare.

Who Would Like a Christmas Tree?:
A Tree for All Seasons
by Ellen Obed

We always think Christmas tree is only meaningful during Christmas season. Adorning them with ornaments and glittering lights is one of our traditions. But what does a Christmas tree mean to other creatures? On a Christmas tree farm in Maine, Obed tells us all of about this wonderful tree and uncovers its mysteries, from month to month and season to season. The Christmas tree is food and shelter, as well as playground for creatures from large mammals to small insects. In January, black-capped chickadees come to feed on moth eggs and little spiders hidden under the bark in the day and to sleep in the thick branches through the night. These chickadees keep the trees healthy because they eat harmful insects. White-tailed deer, however, roam around and munch on the tender branches in early spring. In the last pages of the book, Obed explains how the farmers keep the deer out in an eco-friendly way. Finally in December comes the familiar holiday harvest enjoyed by farmers and families. Anne Hunter paints a very picturesque and serene view of both distant and close-up scenes. This book is definitely great for read-aloud or alone, for young and old.

Reprinted from Sofie Masri for Sacramento Book Review