first_imgKlay Thompson subscribes. You can too for just 11 cents a day for 11 months + receive a free Warriors Championship book. Sign me up!SAN ANTONIO — Unlike his previous left Achilles injury that nearly sidelined him for an entire year, DeMarcus Cousins’ latest ailment does not appear to be serious.The Warriors said that the results of an MRI taken Monday on his sore right foot came back clean. Nonetheless, the Warriors (47-21) have officially ruled him out for Monday’s game against the San …last_img read more

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Matt ReeseA stealthy hunter slowly creeps through an evergreen forest, scanning the surroundings for his prey. A cold November wind whips through the pines, sending a shiver through the hunter’s body. Undaunted he presses on, silent as snow.Through the cover of some fir branches the hunter stops, keen eyes focused on his quarry — a buck deer warily watching from his spot nestled up beneath the green boughs of the winter landscape. A flash of the bow and the deer slumps. A flick of the knife and the hunter’s task is fulfilled with another successful hunt on the DiVencenzo Family Tree Farm.The tradition started when an upset too-young-to-deer-hunt four-year-old couldn’t go deer hunting with his dad. To amend the situation, the boy’s grandmother instead took him to pick out a Christmas tree and hunt for a stuffed toy deer hidden in the tree field using a toy bow and plastic hunting knife. The result is a harvest of fond memories generated from an amazing string of hunting success stories for the young hunter for both Christmas trees and the toy deer.“If you want a tree you go to Home Depot. If you want a family experience, you go to a tree farm,” said Al DiVencenzo. “You come here for that experience. We don’t sell trees, we sell the tradition and the family values and the opportunity to come out as a family to get a tree.”DiVencenzo grew up on a Lorain County dairy farm. His father died in 1971 and the family had to sell off parts of the farm to pay taxes and make ends meet. By 1983, DiVencenzo was left with a narrowChristmas trees have been a suitable crop for DiVencenzo’s 16-acre strip of land.16-acre strip of land running from the road to the woods in back. He worked full time as a special needs teacher and wanted to get back into agriculture on his land.“The equipment was getting too big to farm it. We needed an alternative crop,” he said. “Ohio State University Extension had a course locally to help us get started growing Christmas trees. They outlined the economics and the literature. At the time, there were quite a few good people in OSU Extension doing tree research and it appeared to be a nice alternative crop, so we planted some Scotch pine and white pine.”Production of DiVencenzo’s alternative crop had a bigger learning curve than anticipated, but after years of trial and error, the farm has established some successful techniques for tree production.“We plant trees in April either with a tree planter or inter-planted by hand with a 36-millimeter auger on the end of a cordless drill to make holes. We plant until early May,” he said. “We have heavy clay and plant on a ridge. We have a three-point implement that can go through sod and make a ridge and then we plant on those ridges. We shear with Beneke pruner starting in late May with the tops of the trees in pines and work through the fir later in the summer. Weed control is a constant with mowing out there. I try to use some herbicide in the rows. I walk the trees to look for insects and will spray targeted areas. I don’t plant a single species of trees in a block — I mix them up so I don’t lose awhole block from an insect. It takes more time to do that, though. And, nobody in those first OSU Extension classes talked much about deer damage. We have a lot of deer damage.”DiVencenzo also had to figure out how to deal with one of the most daunting initial challenges of growing Christmas trees: the economic gap between planting and harvest.“We kept putting money in the ground but were not seeing any income for several years. So we started selling wreathes made from greens from some of the deer damaged trees on the farm. Then I started going to neighbors seeing if I could get greenery to make wreaths and the wreath business started to take off. You only use the very end of the branches so you go through a lot of trees. We ended up going to the UP of Michigan and bringing back boughs to make all of the wreaths,” he said. “We sell around 250 wreaths a year here, mostly traditional round. Now we get our greenery from a place in Cleveland and we still use greenery from scrap trees here and make up to 48-inch wreaths.“And, Mitchell Wire Products in Minnesota makes these Block O wire wreath frames for us. I sent them a diagram one year and they sent me a prototype. You have to order them in January when they can get set up for it. We ship the finished wreaths to places like South Dakota, Washington, D.C. and, oh my goodness, even Michigan. We call them displaced Ohioans. Sales of the Block O wreaths really depend on a certain football game at the end of the season.”The farm also has had to evolve with customers demand.“My customers in the old neighborhoods in Cleveland want narrow and tall trees and I shear for that out in the fields. The customer determines what it is I grow and sell,” he said. “And they want the tree earlier. Now we open the weekend before Thanksgiving and we will be busier that weekend than on Dec. 17.”While there were (and continue to be) challenges with tree production, marketing offered an even greater challenge initially for the operation.These wooden coins have become collectors’ items for some farm customers.“I grew up knowing how to grow things, but this is more than growing a Christmas tree, this is about marketing and working with people,” DiVencenzo said. “I enjoy this time of year the most. The trees provide us the opportunity to provide something for families. It is intense work. When you are shearing in July, it is hot, tough work. This is the time we see the rewards and get to work with customers year after year. It is why we do this. I really enjoy that. It is the people side that is most enjoyable, but sometimes this marketing stuff can be overwhelming.”For DiVencenzo, the marketing on the farm really benefitted by learning from others through the Ohio Christmas Tree Association (OCTA).“In 1983 I didn’t know a thing about advertising. I didn’t even know you had to put a sign out at the end of the road to show people how to get to the farm. That is the value of being a part of an organization — learning those kinds of ideas,” said DiVencenzo, who is now OCTA president. “Our association is great about sharing ideas.”One of those ideas led to the very popular “Scholarship Forest” on the farm.“We are still on just the 16 acres. That is limiting what I can sell. I am only selling maybe 400 trees out of the field each year but more people kept coming to the farm. That led to the Scholarship Forest around 10 years ago. It was an idea from another Christmas tree grower,” DiVencenzo said. “I had started bringing in pre-cut Frasier firs to supplement sales in the field. But what was the incentive for people to buy those pre-cut trees? Well, one of the local schools was looking to do fundraising and so we started giving some of the proceeds of those pre-cut trees to charity. Now three local schools and the Grafton Public Library get some of the proceeds. If you buy a tree from the Scholarship Forest, the tags on those trees have a hole punched in them. When the customers pay, they get to choose the charity and that charity gets $10 for every tag we get. All those charities do all of the advertising and promotion of the fundraiser and the tree farm. They send flyers home from school and advertise the farm in town. The Scholarship Forest volume grows every year. By doing that, we are giving a good chunk of money back to the community and I don’t have to advertise. It works. Now it is pushing 500 trees a year — more than I am selling from the field.”In addition, DiVencenzo promotes his farm with wooden coins he hands out every year, another idea he got from a fellow Christmas tree farmer.“In 2003 we started with the wooden coins. It used to be that if you went to a bar you’d get your second drink with a wooden nickel. We use them to hand out to people so they can remember our farm. We get 1,500 of them every year with the farm name, the year and our contact information and if you walk up to me I’ll greet you with a wooden nickel,” he said. “People get these, take them home and throw them in their junk drawer and then pull them out the following year and bring them back and I give them one for the next year. Now we have people collecting them. Some people even drill a hole in them and hang them on their Christmas tree. I don’t know why, but they do.”In the last couple of years, OCTA has taken an additional step in marketing by participating in the national checkoff program and working with the Christmas Tree Promotion Board.“The checkoff has been a positive boost. The ads from the Promotion Board have been beneficial and they have gotten people talking about real trees. I can’t afford to make those types of videos and promotional materials and we can use them to help market our farm,” DiVencenzo said. “From the Ohio point of view, working with the Promotion Board has been very beneficial. People here can see the value of their 15 cents a tree that they are providing. Advertising is extremely important.”OCTA is working to meet the needs of the wide range of Christmas tree farmers in the state.“Like most of agriculture, we are an organization where we have an aging population that needs help with some of the new technology and promotional opportunities. At the same time, we are constantly looking for new and younger people to get into the business and we are seeing two or four new growers at every meeting,” DiVencenzo said. “We need to establish the next generation and we must promote information about how to get started in the business a well. We have a mentoring program in the organization to help with that. Ohio is also a net importer of trees. We grow 5 million and we sell 8 million and those extras are coming in from other states like Michigan and North Carolina. We have room to grow and are holding strong in our membership.”last_img read more

first_imgAs the curtains came down on the 16th edition of the Asian Games, China once again showed what it takes to be a superpower. Surprisingly, despite a combined medals tally of 416 – 199 gold, 119 silver and 98 bronze – the hosts were still unhappy. On Saturday, some of the Indians at the Main Press Centre were shocked to hear some Chinese journalists lamenting that their country failed to notch up a double century of gold medals. At a time when the Indians are making a song and dance about the 14-gold haul, these Chinese journalists showed where we stand. Like the previous Asian Games, this one too has become a contest between China versus the rest, and not surprisingly, a lot had to do with mindset. When Beijing got to know it would be hosting the 2008 Olympics, the whole of China was in a state of euphoria. In every aspect, their preparations began years in advance with no room for excuses. It is this kind of approach which scares the world when people talk of China as an emerging sporting nation which can one day overtake the US in the Olympics medals tally. So what is it about the Chinese system that they produce such strong world beaters?The other day, a top Sports Authority of India official at the Aoti shooting ranges in Guangzhou gave an explanation as to “how the Chinese system is so good”. The official had no hesitation in admitting that we are way behind China in terms of a sporting culture. That’s the secret of China’s prowess. Sample these cold facts. China invests in sport in such a big way that the athletes don’t have to worry about their future even if they fail. Contrast this with India where failure could not only be the end of an athlete’s career but the person may be consigned behind a desk for the rest of his/her life. THE difference lies in how China nurtures talent from a very early age. There are over 3,500 staterun athletics programmes alone where over four lakh athletes strive for excellence. But only a few make the grade.advertisementCompare this with India, where sporting programmes are yet to be broad-based. The nurseries of hockey are on the wane and if you talk in terms of sheer numbers as to how many synthetic tracks or hockey pitches we have, there is just no comparison. At a time when we are debating the corruption in CWG, it is the clean system in China which matters. Official estimates say the Chi-nese government spends between $750 million-$1 billion a year on sports and the result is for everyone to see. In contrast, our sports budget was below `500 crore, which is around $10 million a year. Unless the budget in India is increased manifold, athletes would continue to be produced despite the system.It is well known that China used the Guangzhou Games as a build-up for the 2012 London Olympics. Of the 970 Chinese athletes who took part in Guangzhou, 650 were new and are being groomed for the next Olympics. Talk about planning and surely China knows how to do it well.last_img

first_imgSports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Baynes shook his hand in visible pain and went to the locker room when play stopped.Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after the 111-103 loss on Wednesday night that he could see the break on the X-ray.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefBig man Al Horford has also been ruled out for Friday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Guerschon Yabusele, Daniel Theis and rookie Robert Williams are expected to have increased responsibilities at center. LATEST STORIES TS Kammuri to enter PAR possibly a day after SEA Games opening PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Is Luis Manzano planning to propose to Jessy Mendiola? NFL suspends Patriots’ Josh Gordon for substance abuse violation Lacson: 2019 budget delay due to P75-B House ‘insertion’ View comments SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviño MOST READ Hotel management clarifies SEAG footballers’ kikiam breakfast issue Boston Celtics center Aron Baynes, left, gets a pat on the back from Gordon Hayward after breaking his left hand during the first quarter of a basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Boston, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)BOSTON — Boston Celtics center Aron Baynes has had surgery on a broken left finger and will be out four to six weeks.The team made the announcement on Thursday, a day after Baynes left early in the game against the Phoenix Suns after deflecting a pass with his left hand.ADVERTISEMENTlast_img read more