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Nearly two hundred years ago, Massachusetts’ first commercial cranberry crop was cultivated in Dennis, MA.
Nowadays, despite its relatively small size, the Commonwealth remains one of the country’s largest commercial cranberry producers, housing 14,000+ acres of working bogs.
Cranberry harvest season, which runs from September through November, offers Massachusetts residents and visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy the tart berry in many incarnations before it arrives en masse on dinner tables across the nation in late November.
Here’s how you can make the most of cranberry season in Massachusetts.
Photo: Cranberries during harvest season in South Yarmouth, MA
Visit a Farm
Since cultivation started, Massachusetts cranberry production has been concentrated in Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts, and it still is today. The Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association has an informative map that lays out the Commonwealth’s various farms; of the dozen plus bogs, more than half give passersby the chance to see where the picking happens up close and personal.
Stone Bridge Farm in Acushnet offers tours to individuals or groups, including an educational bog walk, flooded bog exploration and one pound of fresh cranberries for each person who partakes.
Photo: Cranberries in the bog
A.D. Makepeace Company in Wareham, which has been in the bog business for more than 150 years, offers tours that are open to the public during the second half of October. A.D. Makepeace also happens to be home to a fine old-fashioned country store, where visitors can find all manner of treats, cookbooks, gourmet foods and cranberry-themed gifts.
Photo: A.D. Makepeace Store in Wareham, MA
See a Little History
Just a short walk from Brooks Park in Harwich Center on Cape Cod, Brooks Academy Museum is brimming with local cranberry history, with a particular emphasis on the role that Harwich has played. The museum is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. from June through October, although other times are available by appointment and interested parties can inquire about them at 508-432-8089. Inside the museum, there’s a wide variety of interactive exhibits, pictures and artifacts that recount the history of the cranberry industry. Those who stop by can also take something home, in the form of jellies, books or cranberry-related gifts.
Celebrate the Harvest
What fun would harvest season be without some festivities to honor it? On October 12 and 13, A.D. Makepeace Company will join up with the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association and Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. to host the 11th Annual Cranberry Harvest Celebration. From 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, attendees can enjoy a whole range of family-friendly fun, with the little red berry as the star of the show, of course.
Photo: Makepeace Farms in Wareham, MA
At the festival, there will be cooking and cranberry harvest demonstrations, in addition to paddleboat rides along the Tihonet Pond. A sprawling tent of juried craft artists will provide plenty of collectibles to choose from, which will be supplemented by food vendors and live music. Admission to the festival will be $10 for adults, with seniors and members of the military paying $5 and children getting in free.
For those traveling into Wareham for the cranberry-themed celebration, Cranberry Gardens Inn is nearby and nicely coincidental. Mulberry Bed and Breakfast is another convenient choice just to the south. To take a look at more lodging options near South of Boston bogs and those on Cape Cod, just click here.
Do you have a favorite culinary cranberry creation? Let us know in the comments below!