News Release, Maryland Department of Agriculture
Ceremony highlights contributions from Annapolis High School art and culinary students
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Today, the Maryland Department of Agriculture held its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. Each year the department displays a Maryland-grown tree outside its headquarters to encourage residents to support our state’s Christmas tree farmers by buying locally-grown, fresh-cut holiday trees, rather than purchasing artificial trees or trees grown out of state. To showcase its support, the department is displaying a 14-foot, Maryland-grown Douglas fir at its headquarters in Annapolis throughout the holiday season.
“Christmas trees are an important agricultural crop in Maryland and many of our farmers work year-round to provide customers with a high-quality product,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder. “As we celebrate the upcoming holidays, I encourage all Marylanders to buy a real tree from a locally-owned farm. When you choose to buy locally you are helping support a Maryland farmer, boost the local economy, and help the environment.”
Simmons’ Christmas Trees, a family-owned and operated tree farm in Kent County, donated the Douglas fir that stands tall outside the agency. The Simmons’ are members of the Maryland Christmas Tree Association, an association of growers and retailers with nearly 100 members across the state.
Decorations for the tree include dried gourds that were hand-painted by Annapolis High School students. Pat and Cindy Hochmuth of Pat’s Produce & Gourds in Wicomico County supplied 100 dried gourds for the art project. During the ceremony, guests enjoyed apple cheese bread, apple walnut brownies, and apple cake, made by the students of the Annapolis High School Culinary Club using local apples from Lohr’s Orchard in Harford County. The recipes for these desserts can be found on the Maryland Apple Promotion Board’s website.
Maryland farmers offer some of the freshest holiday trees available, including the popular Fraser fir and Canaan fir as well as the Douglas fir, Concolor fir, Scotch pine, White pine, and Blue spruce. According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture for Maryland, there are more than 185 Christmas tree growers in the state with nearly 2,200 acres in production. Nationally, there are more than 15,000 Christmas tree growers in the U.S. and the fresh-cut Christmas tree business generates nearly $377 million in sales, according to the latest agriculture census.
Not only do real trees look and smell amazing, but they are also a renewable and recyclable resource that keeps unwanted waste out of our landfills. Artificial trees are often petroleum-based, imported from overseas, and do not biodegrade, so they eventually end up laying in landfills forever. In contrast, real Christmas trees can be recycled at the end of the holiday season, often chipped into mulch that returns important nutrients to the earth.
While growing, Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide and other gases and emit fresh oxygen. When growing in an open area, a 3-inch diameter Douglas fir can reduce atmospheric carbon by 23 pounds and intercept 102 gallons of stormwater runoff per year.
Buying locally-grown trees, including choose-and-cut trees, support family-owned farms, and businesses, preserve farmland and protect the environment. To find a Christmas tree farm near you, visit www.marylandsbest.net. For more information about the benefits of purchasing a Maryland-grown tree, please check out the Maryland Christmas Tree Association’s website: www.marylandchristmastrees.org.
After the holidays are over, check with your county about its tree recycling programs. For other tree recycling tips, visit: www.realchristmastrees.org/All-About-Trees/How-to-Recycle.