Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A visit to the Cranberry Bogs

When we learned that we were moving here from Korea, I started making a "bucket list" of things I wanted to do and places I wanted to see during our time here.
"Learn more about cranberries" was actually somewhere on that list. Photobucket
Seems a little odd when you factor in NYC, Washington, DC, The Statue of Liberty, Seaside boardwalks, Niagara Falls, and Canada (just a few of the other bucket list items). But, for a southern girl whose only "experience" with cranberries has been juice, canned sauce at Thanksgiving, craisins, an occasional cranberry orange salad, and Ocean Spray commercials, the desire to see cranberries first hand made perfect sense.

We attend church with several people who are involved in the farming of cranberries. And, October is harvest time in the cranberry bogs. When I was asked Sunday if I wanted to go out and visit a farm this week, of course, I said yes! And of course, I carried my camera along! So, now I get to "bog" this post down with photos! Hope you enjoy! I did!
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To a novice cranberry farm visitor, cranberry bogs just look like overgrown vegetation somewhat sunken into the ground in sections/plots. But, for someone who spent some time in Korea and observed sunken rice fields which were submerged in water for planting, the ridges along the bogs sort of a gave a clue that some of those fields I'd been passing on the back-roads going to post were cranberries growing! Hmmph... The cranberry farm field trip proved my suspicions. Yep, cranberries aren't obvious upon first sight.
We rode in one of the farm's tour buses around the bogs. I was reminded of some of the buses and crazy driving of Korea! (The narrow road. Water filled areas off the shoulder of the road. Etc...) Because the workers were in the middle of harvesting and for safety reasons, I had to stay on the bus even at stops where we viewed the workers. My photos weren't as close up as I'd have liked, but I am pleased with them. And I learned about the process of cranberry farming, so what more is there to ask for?

Unlike rice growing in Korea, flooding the field/bog comes at harvest season. Around this farm, there were many pump houses that enabled the flooding.
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This farm has a handy dandy floating picker machine. The floating picker replaces the older style pickers that ran along the ground and caused damage to the cranberry plants. This thing is GPS navigated from a computer in the warehouse near the entrance of the farm. Computers were in the tractors that were also keyed into this whole process.
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Once the cranberries are picked from the ground plants, they float to the surface. They are then corralled by a large band attached to tractors on each side of the bog and gathered into one end of the bog for removal. Workers clean the edges of the bog of any stray berries that escaped the corralling.
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The berries are then removed and loaded into dump trucks which take the load to the warehouse for sorting and cleaning before being hauled off to Ocean Spray.

Then, more clean up is done in the now harvested bog.
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Back at the warehouse, the berries have been sorted and are in their "bath" before being loaded onto the next truck.
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After watching the berries being loaded onto the trucks, we exited the bus and loaded back into the van. We were able to drive to another part of the farm where the workers hadn't started harvesting yet. So, I got to put my feet on the ground and get some close-up photos of the berries still on the plants. The first two photos above were taken then. And here are some others.
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Aren't they beautiful? I tasted one from off the plants. It was sour! Would have been good at the bottom of a Sonic Cranberry Limeade though. ;)

4 comments:

  1. Super cool pictures! I enjoyed learning abut cranberry farming. Very interesting.

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  2. Wow - as I live in the desert, I expect there is a 99.78% chance I'll never visit a cranberry farm, so thank you for the post about one. I had no idea all that was involved. Loved the photos!

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  3. I'd love to visit a cranberry bog. There's a pretty large one down at the coast (over 65 years old I believe), but we've never visited. I think it would be fascinating.

    Every year we buy bags of fresh cranberries and freeze them for later use.

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  4. These pictures are BEAUTIFUL! The colors are so pretty. I had actually never thought about where cranberries were grown and didn't know it was such a huge crop in states like NJ.

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