According to the BC Cranberry Marketing Commission, there are more than 6,500 acres of cranberry bogs spread across the communities of Richmond, Delta, Pitt Meadows, Langley, Chilliwack, and on Vancouver Island—and most of them are currently at their aesthetic peak.
The region's cranberry harvest takes place each fall, usually wrapping up by the end of October. Though the fruit can be "dry harvested," with growers using a mechanized picking machine to collect the berries, the eye-catching bogs come to life during a "wet harvesting." During this process, the bogs are flooded with water, while the fruit is subsequently “beaten” off the vine. The berries float to the surface, where they're corralled and loaded onto delivery trucks.
Why does the fruit float, you ask? Each cranberry contains four air pockets, which allows the berries to rise to the water's surface.
Dry-harvested berries usually make their way to fresh produce sections, where they're purchased for use in cooking and baking, while the floating fruit is most often further processed for products like juice, sweetened dried cranberries or ready-made sauces and jellies.
Many of those products will inevitably be of the Ocean Spray variety. In fact, "Over 95% of cranberries grown by BC growers are shipped to the USA for use in value-added Ocean Spray products such as juice and Craisins," states the BC Cranberry Marketing Commission. "Ocean Spray is a grower-owned cooperative including our BC growers. By purchasing Ocean Spray products you are supporting our BC cranberry growers."
As the Commission explains on its site, B.C.'s cranberry bogs are managed by 70 farm families—"some 4th generation."
One of those is Mayberry Cranberry Farm in Burnaby, where B.C. photographer John Preissl managed to snap a few stunning sunset shots of the floating berries (scroll through the gallery above!) on Thursday, Oct 22.
"The May family have farms in Richmond and Burnaby and are third generation cran farmers," Preissl explained in an email.
Meanwhile in Richmond, local Tom Torng recently noticed a cranberry “wet harvest” while driving along McMillian Way and was simply amazed by sight of thousands of bright red berries floating in the bog.
"It looked like a sea of red from far away. It’s really quite beautiful," said Torng, who stopped his car to record the fall phenomenon.
Torng’s video shows thousands of cranberry crops floating in water while workers in chest waders stand in the water pulling on booms to corral the berries in a circle, so they can be loaded onto a truck.
- With files from Nono Shen / Richmond News