Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony Encourages Residents to Buy Locally-Grown Holiday Trees
Ceremony highlights contributions from Annapolis High School art and culinary students
ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture held its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony this afternoon. 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 Norway spruce at its headquarters in Annapolis throughout the holiday season.
Ken and Barbara Willets of E&E Trees in Frederick County donated the Norway spruce that stands tall outside the agency. The Willets are also members of the Maryland Christmas Tree Association (MCTA), 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 the students of the Annapolis High School Art Club and the National Art Honor Society. Pat and Cindy Hochmuth of Pat’s Produce & Gourds in Wicomico County supplied 70 dried gourds for the art project. During the ceremony, apple cranberry cookies, baked fresh by the students of the Annapolis High School Culinary Club, were handed out to attendees. Catoctin Mountain Orchard in Frederick County provided the apples used in the cookie recipe.
“This year’s tree lighting ceremony was one for the books,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder. “From the beautifully painted gourds that filled the tree to the delicious cookies made with local apples, the Annapolis High School art students, culinary club members, and teachers made this event truly special. I want to give a big thank you to everyone that donated their time and resources to making the tree lighting ceremony the perfect start to the holiday season.”
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 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.
“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 Secretary 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.”
Not only do real trees look and smell amazing, they are also a renewable and recyclable resource that keep 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 storm water runoff per year.
Buying locally grown trees, including choose-and-cut trees, supports family-owned farms and businesses, preserves farmland, and protects 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 at www.marylandchristmastrees.org.
After the holidays are over, check with your county about its tree recycling programs. For other tree recycling tips, go to www.realchristmastrees.org/dnn/AllAboutTrees/HowtoRecycle.aspx.
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