ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture held its annual Maryland Christmas tree lighting ceremony outside its headquarters in Annapolis on Thursday, December 2. The 15-foot Douglas fir, donated by Deer Creek Valley Tree Farm in Harford County, will be displayed throughout the holiday season and encourages Marylanders to support our state’s Christmas tree growers by buying locally-grown, fresh-cut trees.
“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 Joe Bartenfelder. “This year more than ever, it is important that we continue to support our tree farmers. When you choose to buy locally you are helping support a Maryland farmer, boost the local economy, and help the environment.”
Maryland farmers offer some of the best fresh-cut 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. In Maryland, there are more than 185 farmers growing nearly 2,200 acres of cut Christmas trees, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) 2017 Census of Agriculture. Nationally, there are nearly 15,000 farms growing 350,000 acres of Christmas Trees — most of which is preserving green space (National Christmas Tree Association).
Fresh-cut Christmas trees are an important economic driver in the United States. Around the country, over 100,000 people are employed by the industry (National Christmas Tree Association). According to USDA data, the industry generated over $357 million in sales in 2019.
Not only do real trees look and smell incredible, 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.
There is an environmental benefit to buying real Christmas trees. While growing, Christmas trees emit oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide and excess nutrients. This helps protect local waterways from runoff. On average, Christmas trees grow for about 7 years before they are ready for market. For every tree that is harvested, up to 3 seedlings are planted in its place (National Christmas Tree Association).
Buying locally-grown trees, including choose-and-cut trees, supports family-owned farms, and businesses, preserve farmland, improve the local economy, and protects the environment. To find a Christmas tree farm near you, visit MarylandsBest.net. For more information about the benefits of purchasing a Maryland-grown tree, please check out the Maryland Christmas Tree Association’s website.
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.