In Southeast Massachusetts, at the entrance to Cape Cod and right in the middle of Cranberry Country, is Cranberry Hill, six acres of cranberry bog which has been certified organic for the past twelve years. Fifteen years ago when we started to transition our bog to organic, there was not much interest in organic produce or organic agriculture, and we were not experienced growers, just a teacher and a sea captain who wanted to live in sustainable peace and harmony on our land which happened to contain a natural cranberry bog.
It is a peat based bog with sandy banks. The cranberry vine covered peat hollows had been carved out by retreating glaciers hundreds of years ago. Here it formed a valley which lies between two spring fed ponds. Years ago the whole valley was a cultivated bog, but in the mid 1940s, low cranberry usage and low prices, shortage of labor and other difficulties common to all farming led to most of the bog area becoming abandoned. Only a few acres have remained in production.
Natural cranberry bogs are peaceful and beautiful, a refuge for many birds and insects. We did not want to introduce synthetic inputs -- pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers into this setting where cranberries had grown naturally for so long, harvested by Native Americans and all the successive residents of the area. Our elderly neighbors remember a time when everyone, children included, participated in the September harvest. Schools were closed and everyone helped to bring in the crimson harvest.
It is good for people to eat food that is grown without chemicals but it is even better for the surrounding plant and animal life. Birds, frogs, crayfish, and many amazing insects thrive on our bog. Some of them do eat cranberries, but they too in turn get eaten and we try to achieve a balance of pest and predator that leaves us with enough crop to make our effort worthwhile.
On the rest of the farm we grow vegetables for ourselves in two small gardens , have some ducks, chickens and geese and keep beehives for pollination and for honey. We harvest the cranberries once a year, in the fall, but much of our time is spent cultivating, weeding, harvesting, packaging and selling our certified organic cranberries from Cranberry Hill.
We take orders large and small all summer long at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone or fax at 508-888-9179