Cape Cod’s cranberry harvest is a crimson tradition

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WAREHAM, Mass. - The cranberry harvest is busy, historic and beautiful.

"This is one my items on my bucket list," says Sara Funk of Pennsylvania. "I’ve always wanted to come to a cranberry bog."

IMG_3191During the fall, A.D. Makepeace Company in Wareham, Massachusetts doesn't just show visitors the bog. It allows them to witness the work that goes into this vibrant autumn tradition.

"We are the largest cranberry grower in the world," says Glenn Reid, noting that A.D. Makepeace stretches over 2,000 acres.

Cranberries are the number one food crop in Massachusetts. The industry has created 5,500 jobs in the area and has contributed more than $200 million to the local economy.

When you first arrive at A.D. Makepeace, visitors see a dry bog where the vines grow in one direction cultivated by the perfect Cape Cod conditions.

"This is how you’d see the bog 90 percent of the year," says Reid.  "Underneath theses vines is actually sand and peat."

Then, folks are shown a second location which is flooded for harvest. The berries have been popped off the vine with a raking machine. IMG_3188

"We’ll bring in another group. They’ll have a boom, like an oil boom, made out of life jacket material. It has a float on the top and a curtain that hangs down about 8 inches," says Reid.

The boom corrals the sweetly tart fruit, bringing it to shore, where a vacuum truck is waiting.

"It’s got an 8-inch hose that comes out the bottom of it and goes into the water. There’s a 3 by 4 aluminum vacuum head that sits just below the surface of the water," he further explains, noting this brings everything, including natural debris, up to the top of the truck. "There’s a wash bay up there. All the cranberries float to the top, there’s water jets that push the cranberries over a grate.  All the water and leaves fall through that grate. All the cranberries go into the tractor trailer."

The berries then head to Ocean Spray to become jellies and sauces, the perfect compliment to a holiday table. Delicious food is also available at Makepeace Farms.

IMG_3192"As a cranberry grower, this is the peak of your year. This is what you’ve been working all year, what you really want to see," says Reid. "And to see a great harvest is just wonderful."

Participants like Joyce Higgins loved seeing this colorful process. "He showed us the very beginning to the very end of the cranberry crop."

And, for Sara Funk, seeing means understanding a once-in-a-lifetime experience. "Here I am and it was worth it, it really was!

Special harvest tours are coming up: they'll be held on October 31 and November 11. A.D. Makepeace offers group and private tours all year round. Click here for more information.