Neigh­bors give tree farm a hand

More than 100 pitch in to help owner’s widow pre­pare for prime sea­son

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Matt But­ton

The day af­ter Thanks­giv­ing is greeted by Christ­mas tree farms across Mary­land as the start of the busiest and most prof­itable stretch of the year. But for one farm in north­ern Har­ford County, get­ting ready for the hol­i­days re­quired some help­ing hands from the com­mu­nity.

This year is the first that Jar­rettsville Nurs­eries is car­ry­ing on with­out G. Boyd Sauls­bury, a sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion tree farmer who for years guided the fam­ily busi­ness that first opened in 1961.

Sauls­bury died in Fe­bru­ary at age 50 af­ter a lengthy bout with can­cer. Dana Sauls­bury now runs the 80-acre farm with help from their three chil­dren.

In re­cent weeks, Dana Sauls­bury be­gan to fall be­hind on a lengthy to-do list to get the choose-and-cut tree op­er­a­tion up and run­ning for this week­end’s sea­son open­ing

To their res­cue came more than 100 pairs of help­ing hands — vol­un­teers from the com­mu­nity who showed up last week­end to pre­pare saws, stake out an out­door Christ­mas vil­lage, re­pair road­ways and per­form other chores be­fore the rush of cus­tomers that is ex­pected to­day.

“It’s love. It’s neigh­bors help­ing neigh­bors. It’s over­whelm­ing,” said Dana Sauls­bury.

Jar­rettsville Nurs­eries is a mem­ber of the Mary­land Christ­mas Tree As­so­ci­a­tion, a net­work of farms that pro­mote the choose-and-cut and live tree mar­ket. The week­end af­ter Thanks­giv­ing is con­sid­ered prime selling time for Christ­mas trees, as many fam­i­lies make a tree pur­chase part of their week­end ac­tiv­i­ties.

It’s an im­por­tant seg­ment of the state’s farm in­dus­try. Ac­cord­ing to data on the Mary­land De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture web­site, there are about 170 Christ­mas tree grow­ers in the state, with nearly 2,200 acres in pro­duc­tion.

Mike Do­ran, pres­i­dent of the Har­ford County Farm Bureau, said when he learned Jar­retsville Nurs­eries was hav­ing Kate Stine, left, and her friend Christina Trava­line place posts for the Christ­mas vil­lage at Jar­rettsville Nurs­eries. The long­time owner, G. Boyd Sauls­bury, died in Fe­bru­ary and his widow, Dana Sauls­bury, had fallen be­hind on pre­par­ing for the tree sea­son. trou­ble. get­ting ready for the sea­son, he used the bureau’s Face­book page to put out a call for help.

Peo­ple in the com­mu­nity re­sponded, many turn­ing up at the farm on Holy Cross Road on Sun­day for a day of vol­un­teer work.

“We were ec­static about the turnout,” Do­ran said. “There were folks there that weren’t with the farm bureau — friends of the fam­ily and other or­ga­ni­za­tions that heard about it.

“We knocked out the ma­jor­ity of the list and cer­tainly got the stuff done to get them ready to open on Fri­day,” he said.

Madisyn Ames, a stu­dent at North Har­ford High School and a mem­ber of the school’s Future Farm­ers of Amer­ica chap­ter, was among those who came to vol­un­teer. Boyd Sauls­bury was a North Har­ford grad­u­ate, a mem­ber of the FFA.

“Our chap­ter feels very strongly that we need to have a pres­ence in our com­mu­nity and we need to help,” Ames said as she stocked the farm’s sales build­ing with Christ­mas tree stands and other items.

A neigh­bor of the farm, Jamie Reeves, used a trac­tor with a mower to cut fields, while fel­low res­i­dent Derek Hop­kins — Har­ford County’s reg­is­ter of wills — rode a smaller trac­tor cut­ting be­tween rows of trees.

“We wanted to come out and help the Sauls­bury fam­ily to pay back for what they do in the com­mu­nity,” said Jim Hutchins, owner of J&R Sheds and Equip­ment Inc., in Churchville, who showed up with equip­ment to help.

Har­ford County Coun­cil­man Chad Shrodes, who rep­re­sents the north­ern area of the county, said the turnout re­flected the spirit of the farm com­mu­nity — and an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for con­tri­bu­tions made by the Sauls­bury fam­ily.

“Dur­ing his life, Boyd gave back tire­lessly,” said Shrodes. “He of­fered his farm with­out hes­i­ta­tion to non­prof­its to hold events, con­trib­uted back-break­ing man­ual labor when­ever there was a call for help and do­nated hun­dreds of Christ­mas trees to mil­i­tary fam­i­lies each year.”

For Dana Sauls­bury, the out­reach from friends and neigh­bors was a fit­ting trib­ute dur­ing a sea­son of thanks and good­will.

“It warms my heart,” she said. It “makes me re­al­ize how much the com­mu­nity loved Boyd, and how much Boyd loved the com­mu­nity.”


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