Thursday, October 15, 2009

A whole lot of effort to produce a little red berry....

Last Saturday and Sunday was the 6th Annual Cranberry Harvest Celebration and we had been looking forward to it for a long time. Unfortunately, it was a wet and dreary Saturday morning so we waited till the rain had stopped before making our way to Wareham where the event was held. There was already a huge turnout by the time we reached. While the sky was still slightly overcast, we could see the sun peeking from behind the clouds...and we knew it was gonna be a beautiful afternoon at the bog. Entrance fee to the event was just $2 per person.

First some background information - Wisconsin is the biggest producer of cranberries, with over half of U.S. production. Massachusetts is in second place and it produces as many cranberries as the rest of the world combined.

One of the key attractions of the event was the bog tour. There were numerous ways to get to the bog - via bus, wagon or helicopter. The bus service was free whereas you'd have to pay for the wagon or helicopter ride.

We chose the free bus ride. There was a volunteer guide on the bus to tell us more about cranberry production and to answer all our queries.

When we reached the bog, one of the very first things we saw was a HUGE pile of sand. We were told by the guide that sand is very essential in the production of cranberries. When a layer of sand is spread over the soil, it not only helps the plant grow new roots/shoots, it can also prevent pest by burying the weeds, fungal spores and insect eggs.

Below is how a cranberry bog would look before flooding takes place.

Can you spot the little cranberries amidst the vines?

During the harvest season, the bog gets flooded up to the top of the vines. A lightweight harvesting machine equipped with balloon tires is then driven through the flooded bog. The reels from the harvesting machine will spin down into the water and will cause the berries to separate from the vines.

Being less dense than water, the little cranberries will float to the top of the water once separated from the vines.

The berries are then coralled into a collection point (what the man on the top right corner of the photo was doing) where they'd be pumped out from the water.

Rounding up all the floating berries ain't a simple job when the volume is huge. The guy below was seen to be using all his might to tug at the rope while trudging through waist deep water. He had to be assisted by another worker subsequently.

Just look at how many berries there were!
The men below were trying to push the berries towards the "mouth" of the pump (as indicated by the 4 green flags shown in the photo below).

Once the berries get pumped out of the water, they'd be transported onto this conveyor belt machine where they'd get rinsed and for any debris to be removed.

At the end of the conveyor belt, the berries will take a plunge......

....into a huge wagon where they'd be transported to another location for drying, sorting and packaging. Just look at how many cranberries there were....and the wagon was not even half filled!

These are the crates where the cranberries would be stored.

Apart from the bog tour, there were also many other activities to keep the adults and kids occupied.

Exhibitions to show how cranberries were packed in the olden days....

"Train ride" for kids......

Pony rides....

Pumpkin painting.....

Suspender juggling performances...

"Make your own bog" activites...
Harvest equipment exhibits...

Sale of food and crafts...
See these huge bags of cranberries for only USD4 per bag.

Well....we did a little shopping as usual. Our loot included some chocolate coated cranberries, triple berry cake, fresh cranberries and a bottle of cranberry sauce!

It was an extremely educational and fun-filled experience for us. We are already looking forward to the next cranberry harvest!

1 comment:

  1. wow thanks for posting all these infomation and pictures. Indeed very educational. Edith