ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Christmas tree growers have created hand-crafted wreaths, readied pre-cut trees, and prepped the grounds for families to come out and cut their own trees. 

While Minnesota farmers grow a variety of trees, Bill Brabec, owner of Silver Bell Tree Farm in Apple Valley, Minn., said Fraser firs are the most popular, followed by the balsam fir. 

A trip to cut a Christmas tree has become a family tradition for many, and farms have added to the fun. Many tree farms offer  as sleigh rides, games, gift shops and visits with Santa. They can also be a source for local gift ideas such as wreaths, garlands, ornaments, and holiday decorations.

"I enjoy seeing returning families each year. About 25-30 percent of our customers have been coming out for 10-15 years," Brabec said.

For consumers, local trees travel a shorter distance and are able to stay fresher longer. In addition, unlike artificial tress that will eventually end up in a landfill, fresh trees can be recycled after the holiday season.

The Christmas tree industry also provides other environmental benefits: as many as three new seedlings are planted for each tree that is cut down. As they grow, the trees act as a carbon "sink," pulling carbon dioxide out of the air.

Additionally, the trees can provide habitat for wildlife.