Fresh food enthusiasts have long relied on locally grown labels to select fresh produce, but now some wood products manufacturers are taking advantage of regional initiatives to brand wood products as “home grown.”

Most recently, outgoing Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced that goods such as furniture, flooring, lumber and fencing made from wood harvested in Connecticut forests will now bear the popular "Connecticut Grown" marketing label.

Not just for produce 

"Expanding the ‘Connecticut Grown’ label to forestry products makes absolute sense and will give these products a stronger presence in the marketplace," Gov. Rell said. "This initiative will appeal to the growing number of consumers who choose to buy locally grown materials and be a boost for our forest products industry and the jobs it creates."

Rell pointed out that not only is the initiative good for business, but it also is environmentally sound. "We can all take great pride in our homegrown products and the responsible management of the land. Caring correctly for our renewable, natural resources ultimately allows us to reduce our carbon footprint," Gov. Rell said.

With 1.7 million acres, or about 60 percent of its land area, in forest, Connecticut is one of the most heavily forested states in the nation. Ironically, Connecticut is also one of the most densely populated states.

Department of Agriculture Commissioner F. Philip Prelli praised the expansion of the program, which has helped widely promote and grow the state’s farming economy.

"The wood industry is not only an important component to our working woodlands, it is a valuable resource that our citizens utilize on a daily basis and the sustainability of this resource is what our CT Grown program is all about," Commissioner Prelli said. "The proper maintenance of our forests provides a continuing agricultural product in our wood."

Private local branding 

But you don’t have to wait for a government branding program to launch your own home grown initiative. In Massachusetts back in 1999, a group of 18 landowners (along with some consulting foresters, sawmill operators, and loggers) began meeting to discuss the possibility of forming a forest cooperative in western Massachusetts. Today, the Massachusetts Woodlands Cooperative, LLC, offers a wide range of sustainable wood products under the HomeGrown Wood trademark. The group has FSC certification and works closely with government and private agencies to ensure good forest stewardship.

You can read more about their local branding project and forest stewardship efforts at their website.

--William Sampson 

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