The Beach Times

Cape Cod and Cranberries
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Saturday, November 25, 2017


For many, Cape Cod conjures up images of sand, sun, and relaxation, thanks to its location on the ocean and abundance of beaches. And, let’s face it, that’s a fair assessment, as Cape Cod is one of the nation’s more popular and scenic oceanfront areas, particularly during the summer months.

There’s more to Cape Cod than beaches and relaxation, however. While summer tourism is perhaps the most prominent industry on The Cape, it's not the only one, nor is it the oldest.

The cranberry bogs are as old as Cape Cod itself and remain a significant attraction and export. Cranberry farming is linked to the tourism industry through the various festivals and tours found in the region, as well.

The next time you visit Chatham, Harwich Port, or anywhere else on The Cape, make sure that you stop by a cranberry bog to learn about this superfood and its history in the area, while sampling some locally harvested cranberries.

You won't regret it.

History of Cranberries on Cape Cod

Cape Cod is one of the first places settled by European pilgrims arriving in what is now North America, and cranberries are a native crop in the region, so it makes sense that there is a lot of history regarding this fruit.

Cranberries and Cape Cod in the fall.Referred to as sasumuneash by Native Americans, the berry was first used for its medicinal qualities. In 1816, Henry Hall was the first to cultivate the fruit when he built fences around fields of wild cranberries to protect them from wildlife. The plants thrived under these conditions, and by 1820, Hall was able to ship 30 barrels of the product to New York to sell on the local market.

From there, cultivated cranberry bogs began popping up all over the place, stimulating the local economy when the ship-building industry, an important job-providing industry on Cape Cod in the 1800s, slowed down.

By the 1850s, cultivated cranberry bogs were everywhere on Cape Cod, with the product being shipped all over the eastern United States.

Cape Cod Cranberry Events and Festivals

Festivals and other events go hand-in-hand with the cranberry harvesting season, as locals and visitors alike get together to celebrate another successful season of cranberry production. Organized festivals provide something to do on Cape Cod in the autumn, too.

The Harwich Cranberry Festival is a music festival and craft fair that coincides with the annual cranberry harvest. Admission to the festival is free, and it lasts for two days in September. Wine, beer, and food are sold at the event, as well.

The annual Cranberry Harvest Celebration takes place on Columbus Day weekend and has become a tradition to the people of Cape Cod. The festival is educational, as visitors can watch the harvesting of the berries, and numerous displays are set up to explain the significance of cranberry crops. Cooking demonstrations, helicopter rides, craft fairs, and a farmers' market are among the activities found over the course of the weekend.

There is also a music festival, pony rides, a train, and wagon rides, so the entire family will find something to enjoy. You can even wade into a cranberry bog, should you be into that sort of thing.

Cranberry Bogs and Tours

When the cranberry harvest begins around Labor Day every year, the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association puts out a list of cranberry bogs that you can visit. Tours are available at many of these bogs, providing insight into the Cape Cod’s vibrant cranberry producing history.

Annie's Crannies, which sits in Dennis, the home of the cultivated cranberry, is a working cranberry farm with an on-site gift shop selling fresh fruit. The farm uses antique screening equipment to check the quality of the berries picked, and even sells honey and beeswax candles.

Local farmers Leo & Andrea Cakounes have a bog in Harwich that is known as the largest organic cranberry farm on Cape Cod. Daily tours run in the spring, summer, and fall and provide insight into the work it takes and the equipment used to create a fully-functional cranberry farm.

A great place to learn about the history of cranberry production on the Cape is Brooks Academy Museum. The museum has artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays, making it a highly-accessible location for guests of all ages. In October, the institution puts on cranberry bog tours, as well.

Cranberry Vacation on Cape Cod

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the history of cranberries on Cape Cod and Massachusetts in general, fall is the time to visit area because you'll find many different events to experience.

By taking a tour or hitting up a festival, you can discover more about this native plant species and impress your friends when you know the difference between Early Blacks and Howes varieties of cranberries.

Cape Cod is waiting for you



Cape Cod Fall Festivals Vacation

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