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!
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: April posted on May 14
A lamb at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton. Photo by David Cawston April’s contest winner was David Cawston who photographed a spring lamb at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton. The Cummings School of …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: April
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March posted on Apr 23
Girard’s Sugarhouse in Heath, MA. The sugarhouse was built in 1887 and produces around 250-300 gallons of syrup annually. Photo by Michael Girard March’s contest winner was Michael Girard who photographed his family’s sugarhouse in Heath. Michael Girard has been a sugarmaker since 1961 when he …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: February posted on Feb 25
February’s contest winner was Amanda Bettle, who photographed sheep at The Natural Resources Trust of Easton. This photo features Dog, a former 4-H show animal and sole male sheep among the nine ewes in the Natural Resources Trust of Easton (NRT) flock. It is the mission …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: February