Benson’s Pond in Middleborough, MA invites guests to be a “Cranberry Bogger for a Day” during cranberry harvest season. The best part – they provide waders so that you can walk among cranberries in a flooded bog!
The bog is owned and operated by third generation cranberry growers, the Gilmore family. Benson Pond is a member of the Ocean Spray Cooperative, meaning these cranberries will end up in your Ocean Spray cranberry juice, craisins, cranberry sauce, and more!
Erin, the daughter-in-law of the owners, was our tour guide. She walked us through the cranberry harvesting process and its history. The whole family was there, including the bog dog Max, to answer any questions we had.
We learned about the two cranberry harvesting processes – a wet harvest and a dry harvest. A wet harvest is used for over 95% of cranberries. For a wet harvest, the bog is flooded and the cranberries are loosened from their vines so that they float to the top. The floating cranberries are then corralled and loaded onto trucks to be sorted and distributed for your juices and sauces. We got to watch this whole process!
Have you ever seen helicopters flying overhead during cranberry harvest season? They might be there to pick up dry harvested cranberries! A dry harvest is used to harvest the fresh cranberries used for cooking and baking (or topping your festive holiday cocktail) that you see in the grocery store. Growers use a picker that resembles a giant lawn mower to loosen cranberries from their vines for dry harvesting. The cranberries are then emptied into bins by hand or flown off by a helicopter. We saw a couple of helicopters today!
After the cranberries are collected, they are sorted to guarantee that we get the best quality fruit! A few factors that determine the quality of the cranberry is its color, size, and most interestingly, its bounce! The same air pockets that allow the cranberries to float also allows them to bounce. If the harvested cranberries don’t bounce, they are no good! Once we climbed out of our waders, Erin showed us a sorting machine that dates back to the 1940’s. Only the cranberries that bounce make it into the bins. Check out the years on these bins!
Each guest gets to leave with a fresh bag of cranberries! Now that we have two bags of cranberries, I will definitely be trying the cranberry recipes they provided!
The 2020 cranberry harvest season is nearing an end, but make sure you follow @thebarnonbensons on Instagram to stay informed on when you can sign up for next year!
I highly recommend!