Did you that one of the only three crops harvested for profit, and is indigenous to North America is the cranberry? And today we were at Maple Ridge’s Hopcott Farms to see their operations of it first hand.
This is their cranberry tour, an educational experience where you learn how cranberries are grown, followed by a first hand look at how they are harvested.
This experience is available from October 13th to 29th, weekend and select days, at 1pm and 3pm time slots. After signing up and paying the $20 tour fee you get a one of a kind experience, many have never had.
The journey starts at Hoppcott’s farm market and bistro. You check in and board a tracker pulled wagon. A quick trip as you bump along, seated on hay bales. The destination: one of Hopcott’s many fields flooded for the harvest.
Here, all their cranberries go to Ocean Spray, as the farm owners appreciate their cooperative style of business. Basically what money is left as a profit goes back to the farms.
Cranberries come from a woodsy evergreen shrub. The metric volume for harvesting it is by the barrel. Cranberry framing is a capitally intensive business to get into. You need to plant the berries and wait four years to harvest. Although once you have it established, it is goo to go.
A Hopcott they are planted as trailing vines, lower to the ground. Their cranberries in specific will become craisins and the farm is paid to not have them too dark, as to not look like raisins when they dry. So today the flooded field was a sea of various shades of red to white.
For cranberry framing drainage is key. The berries don’t like water, and too much moisture could have you loosing the crop, with the need to replant and wait the 4 year again.
We would go into the blow by blow growth cycle of a cranberry. Our passionate host was detailed in his notes, and if I took better notes I could probably start my own farm, provided I had the capital to sit on acres and acres of field: that would generate no return on investment until 4 years in.
The cranberry bog is filled with vines that yield two berries per shoot. They rent bee hives to pollinate the plants. When the berries are ripe they open the flood gates and fill the bog with water. After the field is flooded they drive around it with a machine called the “beater”, which knocks the berry off the vines. The result is the bog transforming into a sea of flooded cranberries. The farmers collect the berries from one corner to the next, using a floating boom. Jets of water push the cranberries into a pump. Then the berries are poured over a grate and gets sprayed with water to wash away any leaves and debris. The clean berries are loaded into a truck to be delivered to Ocean Spray.
After, we were invited to dawn a set of weighers and walk into the bog ourselves. This is quite the experience. Think of a bath of fresh flowers, but make it roly poly berries bouncing about. A picturesque scene that grants quite the photo op.
After we have had our fill, we were loaded back on to the tractor-led wagon to head back to the main Hopcott Farms property.
To get this one of a kind experience for yourself, see the following for dates and times, plus how to register.
Thursday Oct 19 – 1:00 pm only Friday Oct 20 – 1:00 pm | 3:00 pm Saturday Oct 21 – 1:00 pm | 3:00 pm Sunday Oct 22 – 1:00 pm | 3:00 pm Friday Oct 27 – 1:00 pm | 3:00 pm Saturday Oct 28 – 1:00 pm | 3:00 pm Sunday Oct 29 – 1:00 pm | 3:00 pm
Children age 5 & Under: FREE Child (6 to 12): $12/person Youth (13 to 17): $14/person Adult (18 to 64): $19/person Seniors (65+): $17/person