Selling Christmas trees is the craft Clyde Hirt of Westminster knows best.
Each year Hirt sells hundreds of trees at his Westminster tree farm to families in Carroll County and beyond. For the last five years he’s set aside a crop of Canaan firs that have a special look in order to benefit a special cause.
This year, the fourth-generation farm owner was able to donate a total of $450 as a result of selling 10 Canaan firs to Shepherd’s Staff, a nondenominational Christian outreach and support center serving those in crisis in Carroll County. He also donated an extra tree to Shepherd’s Staff for the organization to auction off.
Hirt “thoroughly enjoys” helping out local nonprofits during the holidays, he says.
Hirt has been in the Christmas tree business since 1978, selling Canaan firs, Douglas firs, Norway spruces, blue spruces, Fraser firs, concolor firs and white pines.
Douglas firs and the Canaan firs are top sellers.
Among the Canaan firs are 50 special trees that have multiple tops and more pliable branches for twisting. These special trees are oddly shaped, giving them a unique look.
Hirt asks customers who purchase 10 of these special trees to add a $15 donation to the purchase price. Hirt then adds a $30 donation, for a total of $45 per tree, which is donated to Shepherd’s Staff.
This year, one strange Douglas Fir was also sold to a Carroll County family for $100. Hirt matched that amount and donated the $200 result to Carroll County Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that helps people in the community build or improve their home.
Not unlike many other tree farmers in the county, Hirt starts selling Christmas trees on the day after Thanksgiving. This year, Hirt’s Tree Farm was one of the last to close shop before the Christmas holiday, remaining open until Dec. 23.
“We work all year long growing and preparing trees,” he said.
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Immediately after Christmas, Hirt’s family will begin work prepping the fields for new plantings. On April 1, they will plant a new batch of trees, which will take between seven and 10 years to fully grow.
“We have several fields where we plant trees that we cycle through,” he said
The family starts trimming in June and continues to trim until the end of September.
Hirt said during the last few years he’s noticed a “slight shortage in trees,” which has brought people out earlier than usual to purchase.
Each Christmas Hirt’s own family uses one of their own “trees in distress” for their home, making use of a damaged tree that otherwise likely would not sell.
The farmer sells trees every year in addition to running his other family-owned business, Douglas Lawn and Landscape.
“Growing the trees is a second job really … I spend four out of seven evenings a week in the fields,” he said. “But I enjoy doing it and my family always helps.”