The County Ag Report: Tree Farming

HODGDON, Maine - Balsam fir and fraser Christmas trees are ready and waiting at Pleasant View Tree Farm in Hodgdon, but the planning for this year began long ago.

(Tammie) When we plant them, they're already probably four to five years old as a seedling. And then it takes between six and eight years from then. It depends on the soil, it depends on how big you want the tree, we grow some trees ten, twelve feet tall, so those are going to take longer. They grow about one foot a year.

Tammie Mulvey and her husband Robert have been in business since 2001, and have learned to be well prepared given long growth periods.

(Tammie) Basically every time we order seedlings for one year, we're planning it for 8 years out. You have to expect some loss, you don't know what Mother Nature's going to do and we don't know what other incidents may happen, like you know insect damage for a year, or if you're talking about drought, anything like that.

Even with roughly 160,000 trees across 160 acres, Mulvey realized diversity was the key to success, especially outside of the busier Christmas season.

(Tammie) I think no matter where you are, but especially in Aroostook County, in Maine, you have to have a diverse crop if you're going to be farming and that's what we love to do.

With pumpkins, perennials, and a soon-to-be apple orchard, the farm, which started out with just a small selection of wreaths and trees 17 years ago, is part of the community year-round. One program has even reached far beyond the County.

(Tammie) The National Christmas Tree Association puts on the Trees for Troops. So we send them trees to them every year with ornaments, so that they go to families that are in the armed forces. So sometimes they go to Afghanistan, this year they went to Fort Hood, and we participate in that every year.

For the trees you plan to bring home, if you want them to last:

(Tammie) The key is giving it a fresh cut right before you bring it in the house and keeping it well watered.