Locally Grown: Cranberries

When you think of cranberries you probably think of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners right? Or maybe you think of cranberry juice and that’s the end of it right? Most people don’t give cranberries too much thought. They are a condiment at holiday dinners or sometimes a delicious drink to enjoy. Did you know that cranberries are grown right here in BC?

Cranberries are grown in the lower Fraser Valley and on Vancouver Island. The BC cranberry harvest comprises about 12% of the North American crop. Cultivation in BC began in 1946 when Jack Bell, following five years as a pilot in the RCAF, became the first commercial grower of cranberries. He planted three acres. Today 6,500 acres yield over 94 million pounds. Eighty farm families, some 4th generation, proudly grow this versatile and healthy product for your tables!

Have you ever wondered how they are grown & harvested? It is fascinating to watch the cranberry fields as they are flooded to be harvested. Such a unique way to harvest!

Cranberries grow on low lying vines in beds layered with sand, peat, gravel and clay. Commercial fields use a system of wetlands, uplands, ditches, flumes, ponds and other water bodies that provide a natural habitat for a variety of plant and animal life.

The majority of cranberries are harvested between September and November and occurs in one of two ways. By far the most common is wet or water harvest. The beds are flooded, and the fruit is “beaten” off the vine using a specialized harvester. The floating fruit is then corralled and loaded onto trucks for delivery to a receiving station. Wet harvested fruit is used for processed cranberry products like juice, sauce and dried.

Dry harvested fruit is “combed” from the vines using a mechanized picking machine. No water is involved during this process. The fruit is loaded into bins and shipped to receiving stations where it is cleaned and packaged as fresh fruit.

The final stage, of course, is preparing and eating these nutritious and tasty natural gems!

The next time you have cranberry sauce with your turkey dinner, or that glass of cranberry juice you will be able to appreciate the fact that these delicious little berries are grown right here in our own province and in one of the most unique ways!

Source: BC Cranberries

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