I was surrounded by cranberries when I was a little girl. Each September, the community would come together to celebrate this tiny red fruit. The Cranberry Festival was the event of the year and served to bid summer adieu as well as welcome a new school year. Each grade level would have a float in the Cranberry Parade and the room parents would spend hours decorating our floats.
Though I didn’t appreciate the industry when I was young, when I reflect back upon my childhood, the cranberry holds a special place in my heart. My third grade teacher, in fact, was a cranberry grower and one of the most memorable field trips was to their bogs. Each year, I have wanted to share this experience with my children but our timing has always been off. 2011, however, all the pieces fell into place.
This past weekend, the kids and I were in Bandon to visit my dad and we coincidentally bumped into a couple he knows. “We are harvesting tomorrow. You should bring your grandkids and come out.” What an opportunity. My girlfriend was also in the area, so I invited her to join us knowing as a south coast girl herself, she and her boys would also enjoy the trip.
The bog was already flooded and agitated upon our arrival. The berries were thereby floating on the water surface while a small group of adults were working to corral the berries towards the suction tube device they used to collect the berries and transport them to the sorting cooler. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? I’ve thereby opted to show a video rather than try to explain it.
The kids were fascinated. My little guy was all over the truck … literally. He wanted to get on top and help remove the few leaves and twigs that were beginning to clog the catch tray (my own terminology). It was amazingly quick. Within the hour we were there, one truck was full and they turned off the ‘vacuum’ to change out trucks.
The family owned bog that we visited is an independent grower. The thereby cooperate with other bog owners to sort and process the berries together. We didn’t get a chance to see this facility on this trip but look forward to doing so perhaps in 2012. In fact, the kids are hoping that they will be able to take part in the harvesting … doning hip waders themselves and working to coral the berries. I shared this with the family and their response was, “Oh! Don’t make promises! We’ll take you up on it!” I hope so. 🙂
Upon our return home, I asked each of the kids to journal about their experience. They were both eager to do so … thereby it took little encouragement from me. Buddy, in fact, took the liberty to make a little book to share with his friends. He loves writing little books.