top of page
  • Writer's pictureMiranda

Cranberry Farm Experience

My bucket list isn't particularly long nor does it include adrenaline rushing experiences. It does include a visit to a cranberry farm. I recently checked this off the list!

It all started with a guy we know, Sean. (We actually know him really well going back 20+ years to college). Who knows a guy, Fran the concrete guy. (Sean would say he is more like family and actually resembles his real Uncle Al but with a strong Boston accent.) Who knows a guy...Glenn the Cranberry Boss. (We all immediately thought he was Grandpa Dan's doppelganger with a flat cap.)

We met for dinner at the Red Wing Diner in Walpole, MA. This was a great local place to get acquainted with both Fran and Glenn and their wives. Fran and Glenn are long-time friends and New England Patriot fans. They were also interested in learning more about our adventure. At the end of the evening, we finalized plans for Thursday...our visit to the cranberry farm with Glenn.

Thursday was sunny and 70 degrees, a beautiful fall day. It is the heart of cranberry harvest in Massachusetts that goes from mid-September to mid-November.

When we arrived at the A. D. Makepeace Farm in Wareham, MA, Glenn invited us to join him in his truck so he could narrate as we drove. We learned that the Makepeace is the largest cranberry farm in the US with 2,000 acres of bogs that produce 400,000 barrels of cranberries each year! In fact, Ocean Spray has a facility adjacent to their farm.

I am assuming that everyone has had cranberries before in some form or another. But fresh off the vine they are refreshing, tart and crunch in your mouth. Mallory recorded the satisfying sound, so if you want to hear the ASMR just ask her.

Glenn explained that cranberries are native to the US and were used by Native Americans in three distinct ways: food, medicine and dye. In their small, half inch diameter they pack in a lot of benefit being high in nutrients and antioxidants including vitamin C. In fact, their vitamin C level is why they first became such a valuable crop on the East Coast, as they were a staple on ships to prevent scurvy.

The agriculture of cranberry farming is fascinating; combining science, math, water, and weather.

Glenn spent nearly three hours with us showing the bogs...

- Some that were being rebuilt, So they are even when flooded and removing rivers that had run through them. They start with a peat base, then a substantial layer of sand.

- Some that were ready for harvest, deep red in color from the ripened berries and vines.

- Some that had vines just starting to grow and not ready yet to bear fruit.

- Some that were being flooded and harvested. This all needs to happen in five days or less to preserve the fruit.

- And, the largest cranberry bog in the US at 75 acres.

Some bogs were designed in terraced steps. As the water pump floods the bog at the top of the elevation and it is harvested, a culvert flume system can be opened to reuse the same water to flood the next blog below and so on.

Glenn answered all of our questions. We aren't totally sure what his title is, but Cranberry Boss seems fitting as he has worked at the A.D. Makepeace Cranberry Farm for more than 40 years.

Here's a summary of what we learned about growing and harvesting cranberries:

- The vines are on the ground, not bushes, and form their bud in July of the previous year.

- The vines blossom in late May to early July.

- They rent bees, and ship them in by the truckload from Florida to pollinate for about a month.

- The fruit forms in July the size of a pea and grows to a full size cranberry and ripens from white to a deep red by mid-September.

- One of the biggest threats to their crop is frost. Freezing is fine, but frost turns the inner berry to mush. The pump houses adjacent to each grouping of bogs are used to irrigate the plants in the spring and fall to prevent frost.

- Harvesting can be done dry, which is much more time consuming but required for fresh berries, or wet, when they flood the bogs. Wet has become their sole method and provides cranberries to Ocean Spray to be made into juice, cranberry sauce and Craisins.

The culmination of the day is when we all pulled on waders and joined a handful of the 70 hard-working employees who were harvesting the cranberries from a flooded blog.

The equipment they use is custom fabricated at the Makepeace farm. A raking system loosens the cranberries from the vine. Once they are loose, the berries float to the top of the flooded bog. The guys working the bog "herd" the berries into a circle and then use a vacuum truck to remove the berries through a screening system that separates the fruit from the leaves and other debris. They are loaded into a semi right from the bog. Then, delivered directly to Ocean Spray.

After spending the morning in the bogs we visited the Makepeace gift shop and deli. They had a Thanksgiving Soup that was delicious and reminded me of a "Turkey Cranberry Wreath" that has become a family favorite. I'll share the recipe in case you want another way to enjoy cranberries. And, we highly recommend a cranberry farm tour if ever given the chance!


Recent Posts

See All


Oct 11, 2021

I just realized you can leave comments here, so hello family! you are all missed so dearly, your presence is missed at church! And in small group. Yay for updated, do you have Venmo? I’d like to fill the kids ice cream fund 😁 be safe!

Nickelson family


Linda Peterson
Linda Peterson
Oct 09, 2021

I love reading about your adventures.😊


Jeanne Johnson
Jeanne Johnson
Oct 09, 2021

You guys are rockin this adventure thing...... Memories to last a lifetime and then some.


bottom of page