THE “FRESH CRANBERRIES” SIGN grabbed our attention along State Highway 21 just east of Tomah in the heart of Wisconsin cranberry country.
So my husband slowed the van in a flash and turned onto a side road to North Tomah Cranberry Co. operated by John Rezin & Sons. Randy loves cranberries. Me, too. As juice or in pie. You won’t see me scooping cranberries onto my plate at Thanksgiving.
We’d never been on a cranberry farm nor purchased just harvested cranberries. So we were excited—or at least I was to photograph a true Wisconsin cranberry farm.
Teresa Rezin met us on the farmhouse side porch before we could follow the “RING DOORBELL FOR CRANBERRIES” signage.
Randy snapped up two pounds of berries for $4, later wishing he’d bought five.
The next customer purchased 30 pounds—for cranberry wine. I wish I could have followed that woman home to learn about cranberry wine making. I’ve sipped and savored cranberry wine from Wisconsin.
Instead, under Teresa’s direction and welcome, Randy and I headed over to the cranberry fields for a quick look at how cranberries grow. I had no idea. None. I expected waist high bushes ripe with red orbs. Instead, we discovered cranberries clinging to earth-hugging plants.
A gravel road separated the cranberry field from a small lake size body of water used to flood the cranberries at harvest. This we deduced on our self-guided quick tour.
For $3.50 a day, fishermen/women can fish here, too. Northerns and bass, maybe more. I didn’t ask. What a smart dual usage of water.
We didn’t press Teresa for an educational tour. So our knowledge of how a cranberry farm operates is still minimal.
But at least now I know cranberry plants grow close to the ground.
FYI: North Tomah Cranberry Co. berries go to grower-owned Ocean Spray, located just down the highway from the farm. The Tomah processing plant produces 31 million pounds of sweetened dried cranberries and concentrate annually, according to Ocean Spray.
© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling