As part of our #BuyLocalMD series this holiday season, the Maryland Department of Commerce hopes to inspire you to explore the small businesses in your own community.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture is encouraging residents to support Maryland farmers and buy real, fresh cut, locally-grown Christmas trees, rather than artificial trees or those grown out of state. To showcase its support, the department is displaying a 27- foot Maryland-grown Norway Spruce Christmas tree at its headquarters in Annapolis.
"Christmas trees are an agricultural crop. They are grown to be cut, enjoyed and then new ones are planted again," said Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. "Farms that grow Christmas trees stabilize soil, protect water supplies and provide wildlife habitat."
Not only do real trees look and smell beautiful, they are also a renewable, recyclable resource that keep unwanted waste out of our landfills and are good for the environment. Artificial trees are often petroleum based, imported from overseas and do not biodegrade so they eventually end up in landfills forever. Buying locally grown trees, including choose-and-cut trees, supports family-owned farms and businesses, preserves farmland, and protects the environment.
At the end of the season, trees are recycled a number of ways, such as being chipped into mulch, that return important nutrients to the earth. While growing, Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide and other gases and emit fresh oxygen, unlike artificial trees which are petroleum-based. When growing in open space, a 3-inch diameter Douglas-fir tree can reduce atmospheric carbon by 23 pounds and intercept 102 gallons of storm water runoff per year.
"Maryland farmers work year-round to provide customers with high-quality, fresh, fragrant Christmas trees for the holiday season," said Secretary Bartenfelder. "Visiting a local farm to find the perfect Christmas tree is a great family activity and a fun way to spend an afternoon. Many Maryland farms have additional activities as well, such as sleigh rides and visits with Santa."
According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture for Maryland, there are more than 170 Christmas tree growers in the state with nearly 2,200 acres in production. In Maryland, Carroll County has the greatest number of cut Christmas tree farms with 20. Anne Arundel, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, and Montgomery round out the top six counties for Christmas tree production.
There are about 15,000 Christmas tree growers in the U.S., and more than 100,000 people employed full or part time in the industry. Tree planting, shearing and mowing can take up to 65 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.
Read recycling tips by clicking here, and check with your county about tree recycling programs.Lastly, click here for the department's Top 10 Reasons to Buy a Fresh, Locally Grown Christmas Tree.