A fresh-cut Christmas

If you’ve ever gone berry picking, pumpkin patching or apple harvesting, you know how fun it can be to visit a local farm in spring, summer and fall. 

But did you know you could venture out to local farms even in winter? 

Yep! Minnesota boasts numerous U-cut tree farms for families who want to choose and cut their very own fresh trees. Most farms also offer fresh pre-cut trees, too, or their staff can help you cut down a tree of your choice.

Sure, some of these destinations will require a drive of 30 minutes or more, but all of them offer a wide range of extras to make it worth your time, including Santa visits and photo ops, games and activities, wagon rides through evergreen forests, demonstrations, live animals, gift shops, refreshments such as hot cider, campfires and even live musical performances. 

Many also sell custom-made wreaths, garlands and spruce tips for fresh decorations to get you in the spirit of the season.

Tree farms give families a chance to learn up close about one of Minnesota’s iconic evergreen crops — and get some fresh air in the process. Can you tell a Fraser fir from a Norway pine? Can the kids pick out a blue spruce? What type of tree says “Christmas” to you?

According to Minnesota Grown, the Minnesota Department of Ag’s farm guide for consumers, the average Christmas tree farm absorbs more than 1 ton of CO2 in its lifetime. 

At Minnesota’s 60-plus Christmas tree farms, farmers typically replant one to three trees for every tree that’s cut down. And at the end of the holiday season, 93% of real trees are mulched or composted in Minnesota.

But you don’t have to go to a local farm to get a local tree: You can find an interactive map of Twin Cities tree lots stocked with pre-cut trees at minnesotagrown.com/christmastrees.

If you’re up for more of an adventure, here’s a list of U-cut farms to explore. Go early for the best U-cut selection. Before you head out, check with your location of choice to confirm hours and availability. 

Sarah Jackson is the editor of Minnesota Parent. All photos are courtesy of Hansen Tree Farm in Ramsey.