Harford farm provides Maryland Ag Department's Christmas tree

The 20-foot Christmas tree outside the Maryland Department of Agriculture headquarters in Annapolis came from a Harford County tree farm.

The tree came from Deer Creek Valley Tree Farm, 3744 Ady Road in Street. The farm is owned by Bob and Wilma Muir, who planted their first seedlings in 1989 and began selling their first trees seven years later.

The 20-foot white pine was one of the tallest on the Muirs' five-acre farm. With 1,200 trees to an acre, Muir said, they have about 6,000 trees in various stages of development. Besides white pines, they also plant Douglas firs and Canaan firs.

"We were very pleased," Wilma Muir said, about their tree being displayed in Annapolis. "I felt like it was quite an honor, especially since it was the first time."

Wilma Muir is president of the Maryland Christmas Tree Association, and in her work with Maryland Department of the Agriculture, when she heard MDA wanted to erect a live tree at its headquarters, said she had just the right one.

"Indeed it was the perfect tree," Julie Oberg, an MDA spokesperson, said.

The tree, which MDA employees picked up Monday, was being decorated with lights and bows streaming down it Thursday morning before it was lit later in the afternoon. The tree is part of the department's effort to encourage people to buy live Christmas trees grown by Maryland growers

While selling Christmas trees is seasonal, growing and keeping them ready is a year-round job.

"It's an all-year long project, planting, mowing, shearing," Bob Muir, who is retired from Constellation Energy, said.

"And scouting for insects," Wilma Muir added. She's retired from Brown Brown and Young law firm in Bel Air.

"Buying a locally grown tree is much more environmentally sound than buying an artificial one," Agriculture Deputy Secretary Mary Ellen Setting said a news release. "Fake trees are usually 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 that return important nutrients to the earth. At our ceremony today, we are both celebrating the holiday season and encouraging residents to support our local tree farmers."

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