SYKESVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — Real vs. artificial. It’s the age-old debate when it comes to Christmas trees. This year, the state is sending a message to tree buyers, asking them to “go real.”

Gigi Barnett explains why.

This may be the pickiest type of holiday shopping of the season.

“We like a full tree and we like it to be a more traditional shape,” said Tracey Draper.

For most customers at Pine Valley Farms in Sykesville in Carroll County, selecting the perfect Christmas tree and cutting it down is a family tradition.

“We get to come out here, argue, fall down in the snow, get cold, get wet,” said Kelby Draper. “It’s like the Griswold family Christmas.”

But for Christmas tree farmer Holden Wolfe, growing and selling them is all business.

“Being a Christmas tree farmer, it’s not so much the big tractors and the equipment,” Wolfe said. “It’s hands on.”

The state wants him–and hundreds of other tree farmers–to stay in business. That’s why it’s asking customers to buy real this year and to buy local.

It’s part of the reason why Wolfe sees return customers.

“We try to support local businesses as much as we can. This place is great to look at. It’s beautiful to be out here. It’s much nicer than buying a tree in the K-Mart parking lot,” said Draper.

Wolfe works year-round growing his crop. He has less than four weeks to sell. About 12,000 Douglas and Fraser firs fill the 140 acres here.

Not only are customers are supporting local farmers, it’s all about a healthy environment, too.

“Every time we cut one down in the spring, we’re replanting, so we’re putting all of that oxygen back into the air again,” Wolfe said. “Every year, we plant just as many–if not more–little ones back.”

Maryland has at least 200 tree growing farms across the state. Of the counties that grow them, Carroll County has the most at 22. Altogether, they bring in about $2 million into the state’s budget.

Another reason the state is urging buyers to get their trees locally is the number of jobs the industry hires. More than 100,000 people around the country work full and part-time at Christmas tree farms.

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