Chief of Staff, Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR)
Assistant Press Secretary, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)
The cranberry is a native plant to North America – a small tart berry which has long established its versatility as a food, drink, fabric dye, and healing agent.
Having finally outfoxed our errant GPS, we arrived just in time to the helicopter launch area at a cranberry bog in Rochester to be transported high above expansive bright red swirls of cranberries floating in the bogs below. We could also see tucked between bogs the cranberry processing plants of Ocean Spray, Inc. and Decas Cranberry Products, Inc.
To harvest the fruit, the bogs are flooded with water. Water reels (nicknamed egg beaters) then gently dislodge the berries from the vines. The floating berries are corralled and air-pumped into a truck and taken to nearby processing facilities.
Massachusetts is home to about 400 cranberry growers who grow cranberries on approximately 14,000 acres of land located primarily in Southeastern Massachusetts. The harvest and processing of cranberries is a waste not, want not enterprise. In recent years many farmers have invested in bog renovations to improve water efficiency. In the processing facilities themselves the seeds, skin, and pulp are all processed to make different products such as juice, cranberry oil, and dried cranberries.
In touring the cranberry facility, we especially loved the bounce test. Premium berries will bounce along specially-constructed conveyers and get tagged for the market. But even they still have to jump another hurdle as they pass through color detectors that distinguish ripe from unripe berries. The less bouncy berries go the juice processing route whereas the no-bounce berries are used for composting.
Many cranberry farms are open for visitors to purchase fresh cranberries or other products at their farm stands. Many allow visitors to watch the harvest operation up close, while a few offer tours and even the chance to get into the cranberry bog.
We’d definitely recommend this great outdoor adventure. Visit the MassGrown & Fresher website to find cranberry bogs you might like to visit. Before you make plans to visit a farm, be sure to contact the grower directly. In the meantime, get your hands on some local cranberries and try out some delicious cranberry recipes from the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association Recipes page!
The Turtles are Coming posted on Aug 29
With a migration pattern that stretches thousands of miles, it is no surprise that Massachusetts is home to four types of turtles during the summer, all of them protected by local and international law. And while you probably know that sea turtles often frequent the Massachusetts beaches, can you identify them?
2014 DAR Agricultural Calendar: August posted on Aug 25
Augusts’ Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar Photo Contest winner was Cara Peterson, who photographed a high tunnel greenhouse at Flats Mentor Farm in Lancaster.
Not From Around Here: Green Crabs posted on Aug 22
As part of its work to assess salt marsh health, staff from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) have frequently observed abundant green crabs, often burrowing in the banks of marsh creeks. This summer, CZM is examining the potential impacts of green crabs in salt marsh habitats, including the impact of burrowing activity.