Several people have asked me about the picture at the top of my web site. What is it? Why is the water red? The answer is that it’s a cranberry farm!
A flooded cranberry bog is one of the most beautiful sights in the fall; the red water and the fall foliage are really something to see. We are lucky enough to have two of these farms in our region: Upper Canada Cranberries and Cranberries Valley (aka Vallée de Cannaberges).
Upper Canada Cranberries is located near Greely, about 12 minutes south of the Ottawa airport. They are the only cranberry bog in Eastern Ontario, and most likely the only cranberry producer in the world that is operating within the boundaries of a city (Ottawa).
Upper Canada Cranberries has a terrific website that explains the history of cranberries, and how they are grown and harvested. You can also visit the farm to see how the process works. It’s best to call ahead, because the cranberry season is subject to seasonal variation. For example, this year the berries are early, so when I visited last week, the farm was almost finished with the harvesting.
The on-site store sells many types of cranberry products: juice, cookies, jam, chutney, dried cranberries, bath products, and others. They provide samples of the different juices, including their unpasteurized, unsweetened juice which is full of antioxidants and vitamins.
If you time your visit right, you can also see the sorting of the cranberries using a sorting machine from the 1920’s. Depending on how the cranberries bounce, the machine sorts them into “good” and “bad” piles. The good cranberries get a further manual inspection, and then are manually packed into bags.
You can also walk out to the cranberry fields and view the flooding and harvesting process. Again, it depends on your timing as to whether you will actually see the cranberries being harvested. But even if the cranberry harvesting is over, the farm and its store make for a nice outing on a fall day.
If you’re interested in sampling some wine made from the cranberries at Upper Canada Cranberries, head to Strathmore Orchard and Winery. They have a delicious sparkling cranberry wine that was a hit at our Thanksgiving dinner this weekend.
The other cranberry farm in our region is Cranberries Valley, or Vallée de Cannaberges as its known in French. This cranberry farm is located in Venosta, Quebec, which is past Low, about 1 hour north of downtown Ottawa. As of this weekend (October 9th), they still had at least 2 weeks left of harvesting, so it’s a great time to visit.
I first visited Cranberry Valley about 7 years ago, before they opened to the general public. They are now a very large cranberry operation with more than 20 cranberry fields, and a nice store that sells cranberries and cranberry products. They are open only during the cranberry harvesting season, usually in October.
When I visited last Saturday, a worker was explaining to the visitors how the cranberries are grown and harvested. There were many families visiting the farm and enjoying the beautiful Thanksgiving weekend. It’s a bit of a hike to the fields, but the ground is very hard, so if someone in your group is in a wheelchair or scooter, it should be no problem to visit.
I highly recommend a visit to either of these cranberry farms. It’s a great opportunity to learn about a native North American fruit, while enjoying a fall agritourism experience in beautiful surroundings.