Harvesting cranberries is a farming experience unlike any other.

By Allison Fishman Task
August 30, 2013
Photo: Oxmoor House

Shortly before my husband Aaron and I got married, he invited me to Plymouth, Massachusetts, where his cousin Jeff Kapell and Jeff's wife Alex Pollard own a cranberry farm. They’re part of the Ocean Spray cooperative, an agricultural organization that provides planting, growing, and harvesting support to their members. We arrived on the first day of the cranberry harvest, and by the time we got there, there were already a handful of people on the scene, ready to help out with the day’s work.

Cranberries grow on low-lying vines close to the ground. When the cranberries are ready for harvest, the bogs are flooded with water, which lifts the berries to the surface. Then, an amphibious tractor trolls through the bog, gently knocking the berries from their vines and causing them to float to the water’s surface. The berries are corralled with an enormous rubber “lasso” that farmers use to skim the water’s surface.

The harvest at Jeff and Alex’s cranberry bog began before sunrise and lasted well into early evening. Afterwards, we were rewarded for a job well done with—what else?—an enormous turkey dinner set on a hill overlooking the still-flooded bog. The meal ended with Cranberry Crunch, made fresh from our just-picked haul.