FAIRMONT – Some of the evergreen trees planted at parks like Guyses Run and Curtisville Lake once thrived in Marion County residents’ living rooms.
Since 1988, the Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission has been replanting them in county parks after first placing them in homes where they served as Christmas trees. The trees come from Mt. Zion Nursery, but are delivered by MCPARC workers.
“It was a good program for them and a good program for us,” said Lucille Martin, owner of Mt. Zion Nursery. “They’re purchasing a live tree and MCPARC will take care of it to get it to their house, get it set up, then after Christmas, they’ll help get it out and plant it in one of their parks.”
Martin said Mt. Zion created a partnership with previous MCPARC director Ralph LaRue to start the Christmas tree program, and it has been popular ever since.
“We have planted over 400 trees through this program,” said Rachel Mitchell, assistant director of MCPARC. “It’s really popular, we do it every year with Mt. Zion Nursery.”
Here’s how the program works. A person picks out a tree at Mt. Zion and schedules a time for MCPARC workers to deliver it and set it up in their home. After Christmas, workers will return for the tree and plant it at one of the MCPARC parks for it to populate the park and continue to thrive and grow.
“Once we get them on the schedule, we pick up their tree from Mt. Zion and deliver it to their house, preferably when they’re home,” Mitchell said. “We can bring it all the way in their house or if they want it left on their porch, it’s totally up to the customer.
“Then they have the option to be notified of where their tree is planted, and we can tag it so they can sort of follow the progress of their tree and watch it grow and be a part of the parks,” Mitchell said.
White pine and Norway spruce trees start at $46 at Mt. Zion, and Colorado Spruces start at $60. Martin said, in the past few years, the program has sold more than 30 dug trees a year, and the nursery is prepared to sell about that many again this year.
“We usually would sell in the range of 30 to 35,” Martin said. “Then last year, I don’t think was near that much.”
Martin said she had to bring in some trees from other Christmas tree farms to meet demand, because trees take several years to grow to the optimal size to serve as a Christmas tree.
“It takes eight or 10 years to get a tree up to size, it doesn’t just happen overnight,” Martin said. “We bring some in from out of state to keep up with the season.”
The trees that are available to be planted through the program are a little smaller than the usual cut trees at Mt. Zion, because they have a crate of dirt where their roots are held instead of just a sawed-off trunk. The trees are kept in this state so they can be replanted after the holiday and continue to grow in the wild.
“As long as they have a root ball attached to them, they can be replanted,” Mitchell said. “It’s like a win-win, you get a live tree and you don’t have to worry about having a truck or tying a tree to the top of the car. We do all the hard work and we’ll come get it so you don’t have to worry about getting it out of your house.”
Martin also said the replanting program is beneficial to the environment, because it helps get trees into the ecosystem. She said this way is also more beneficial than purchasing and using plastic Christmas trees, because replanting a tree can do more to help the world.
“In terms of the plastic trees, they have at least been saying it doesn’t do the environment any favors,” Martin said. “With a live tree, even the cut trees can be used in water sources for the fish and everything. I think it’s an overall good thing.”
For more information on the MCPARC Christmas tree program, call the office at (304) 363-7037, or call Mt. Zion at (304) 366-6597.