Meet Your Farmers: Adrienne Kravitz, a Cranberry Farmer in Southeastern Mass.
Or, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Cranberries But Were Afraid to Ask.
Name: Adrienne Kravitz
Profession: Cranberry farmer
Location: Our farm is in Southeastern Massachusetts spread out over a few towns—Bridgewater, Middleboro, East Bridgewater and Hanson.
How many acres? 150 acres this year
How exactly do bogs work? Beyond knowing that cranberries don't grow on trees, my knowledge is pretty limited. Cranberries grow on long-running vines in sandy bogs and marshes, usually near wetlands. Since they are perennials, they return year after year. In the spring the vine blossoms which matures and ripens over the summer.
During the harvest—typically at the end of September through early November, so right now—water is pumped in to help expedite the harvesting process. That's why we like to wear waders. Once a bog is flooded, a machine called a reeler or "egg beater" is driven or pushed over the submerged vines to shake the cranberries loose off their vines. Then they float to the top, are corralled into one area, then taken out of the bog.
Are bogs like quicksand where sinking is a threat? No. It is perfectly safe to walk on a bog.
Tips on cranberry juice stain removal? My personal suggestion is DO NOT WASH and DO NOT DRY in dryer. Soak overnight in cold water and scrub with white soap. Lay flat in sun.
You're part of the Ocean Spray Cooperative, which includes over 600 growers—how does that work? To join, you have to enter into an agreement ensuring that you'll sell the fruit only to Ocean Spray. The company, which started about eighty years ago, is still a grower-owned cooperative and makes up about 65 percent of the cranberry market. There are non-Ocean Spray growers too, which usually sell to other firms to make store-brand juice brands and other cranberry products.
Can you make a decent living in the cranberry business? What were you up to before this? I love being a cranberry farmer. I'm considered new to the industry. I've only been farming cranberries for 22 years. I grew up on a farm with livestock, then we planted our first bog 22 years ago. But before all that, I spent over ten years in the corporate world.
Is there such thing as too much exposure to cranberry juice? Does your skin ever turn colors after too long in the bog? Nope. There is never too much cranberry.
Do you ever hire interns? We have never had interns but were asked by Bridgewater State College's center for sustainability about it so we may start with one or two this spring.
What about those two guys in the Ocean Spray commercials. Are they actual farmers or actors? They look pretty real. Actors.
Ocean Spray Commercial
Can people visit a BYO (bog your own) cranberry farm? Or is that just a berry and apple thing... There is a bog I know of in Cape Cod called Annies Crannies where you can still hand-scoop your own berries and buy them by the pound. Another one is Flax Pond Farms, which I'm not as familiar with but looks good.
Even though we think of Massachusetts as the cranberry heartland, what other regions play a big role in the business? Places like Cape Cod usually come to mind when people think of a cranberry bog, but there are farms all over North America—New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and parts of British Columbia and Quebec. In 2008, Ocean Spray had about 38 percent of its growers in Massachusetts and about 20 percent in Wisconsin. Technically Wisconsin is the largest producer of cranberries, but the berries were first commercially cultivated on Cape Cod.
What's the deal with Craisins? Are they equal parts cranberry and raisin? Craisins are sweetened dried cranberries, not raisins.
Do you know what happened to Ocean Spray's Crantastic juice from the early 1990s? Unfortunately, I am not sure.
Do you ever rock out to The Cranberries? Did you hear about their 19-date comeback tour starting in November? I am not a huge music buff but my husband is familiar with the band and was aware of the comeback tour.
'Zombie' by The Cranberries
Is Thanksgiving your favorite holiday? We are a big Thanksgiving family. Our harvest is over by then so we can finally all relax a bit. And as you can imagine, we have a variety of cranberry sauces and spreads (and breads and desserts) on the dinner table.
So you're really not sick of them? Nope. We eat cranberries all year in all forms. We freeze some after harvest—they easily last a year. One of our family favorites is dark chocolate cranberry bark. Recipe here »