I love that there are still so many things to discover on Martha’s Vineyard. How is that I had no idea that for the last 10 years we’ve had an active cranberry bog, Cranberry Acres?
With the Island Grown School’s Harvest of the Month being cranberries, it was indeed time to check out our cranberries.
Travel down Lambert’s Cove Road and you’ll see a small barn that has been recently renovated – that’s Cranberry Acres. Just behind the barn is the cranberry bog.
The bog is in still in the process of being restored by the Vineyard Open Land Foundation. For the past 10 years, they’ve been working on restoring the bog to its original grandeur which is quite the endeavor.
The land was a bog but about a 100 years ago, the owner turned it into a campground to make more money. since tourism was and is such an important part of the Vineyard economy.
The Vineyard Open Land Foundation purchased the bog and additional land in 1983.
Inside the barn during harvest season, which happens to be now, you’ll often find volunteers sorting through the harvest organic cranberries, yes they’re certified organic. It’s quite the sight, seeing the cranberries sorted by hand.
There are the perfect cranberries, the seconds (a bump or two), ones that are too white for sale, and then the bad ones.
You can buy cranberries right there. There are half pound and one pound, $5 and $10 respectively. The money goes right back to the cranberry bog, since the sorters are volunteers. Luckily people really seem to enjoy the calming process of sorting through the cranberries.
When I visited the cranberry bog, I was on a field trip with Homegrown Preschool. So, we had the opportunity to go into an area where we could actually pick cranberries.
It was so fun. I had never seen a cranberry plant and certainly never picked one before.
There is a section of the bog that is used for teaching Island children about cranberries and about the bog. Through Island Grown Schools, many kids have already visited the bog. Once again strengthening the idea of teaching children about where and how their food is produced.
Vineyard Open Land Foundation Executive Director, Carol Magee was so informative as she took us on a tour of the bog. She’s passionate about the project and happy to educate people on their work.
Imagine the scene, 15 children 5 and under, picking as many cranberries as they could, laughing, tasting, enjoying every moment. It was pretty sweet. It also happened to be the quintessential beautiful Fall day, which added to the experience.
Afterward, we went into the barn and helped sort the cranberries. We also learned that they are harvested by a hand pushed harvest machine and then placed into the sorter, and then sorted by hand.
There were so many beautiful, vibrant cranberries produced by the bogs.
Touching the cranberries, seeing how different each one was and knowing that the fruit came from our bogs was wonderful. Not only could you buy the cranberries there, but you can also get them at Cronigs, Alley’s, and Morning Glory Farm.
Also, a number of Island restaurants like Lucy Hank’s and The Grill on Main purchase the cranberries to use in for recipes at the restaurant.
This has been the best harvest to date for Cranberry Acres, and with that, it means that there are plenty of cranberries for sale. It also means that they’re looking for more volunteers to help sort the cranberries.
The Vineyard Open Land Foundation plans to expand the Island’s only commercial bog, possible double the current size. The conditions are ideal for growing cranberries.
With three ponds to flood the bog, and good sandy soil, and a lot of love, soon the Island will have a lot of cranberries.
Having cranberries grown and harvested here is a big deal. Cranberries are one of three native fruits of North America, and as we become more involved and concerned about where are food comes, this is another opportunity to enjoy local produce and stay true to our farming heritage.
If you’d like order your cranberries or find out about volunteering, you can contact Carol at email@example.com. Also, keep a lookout for local cranberries on the menu at Island restaurants.
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