Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In Wisconsin: A quick stop at a Tomah cranberry farm October 17, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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A sign at the Rezin farm points to the cranberries on the porch.

At the end of the road, a sign points to cranberries on the porch at the Rezin farm.

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.

Fresh cranberries direct from the bogs.

Farm fresh cranberry pricing

Teresa Rezin waits on customers.

Teresa Rezin waits on customers.

Teresa Rezin met us on the farmhouse side porch before we could follow the “RING DOORBELL FOR CRANBERRIES” signage.

Cranberries bagged in various sizes await purchase.

Cranberries bagged in various sizes await purchase.

Randy snapped up two pounds of berries for $4, later wishing he’d bought five.

Beautiful fresh cranberries for sale.

Beautiful fresh cranberries for sale.

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.

One of the many cranberry fields.

One of the many cranberry fields.

Randy pushes aside leaves and stems to reveal the cranberries on the low-lying plants.

Randy pushes aside leaves and stems to reveal the cranberries on the low-lying plants.

Just-picked cranberries.

Just-picked cranberries.

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.

In the distance lies the farm site; to the right the cranberry fields; and to the left, the lake/water for flooding the fields.

In the distance lies the farm site; to the right the cranberry fields; and to the left, the lake/water for flooding the fields.

A water channel.

A water channel and cranberry fields to the right.

The "lake" across the road from the cranberry fields.

The “lake” across the road from the cranberry fields.

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.

Cranberries and fish.

Cranberries and fish.

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.

Loved these cranberry crates on the farmhouse porch.

Loved these cranberry crates on the farmhouse porch.

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.

BONUS PHOTOS:

The direction Teresa pointed us for our brief tour.

The direction Teresa pointed us for our brief tour.

A water pump.

A water pump.

Another "lake," this one with a beach.

Another “lake” by the cranberry farm, this one with a beach.

The farm site just to the north of the "lake" pictured above.

The farm site just to the north of the “lake” pictured above.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling