If you feel like a bit of color in the National Geographic style, move briefly to the New India. New India in the east of Richmond, the suburbs of Vancouver, on the opposite bank of the Fraser River, that is. Here you’ll find cranberry fields — the red berry sea spilled right under your feet.
Richmond is cranberry central, supplying some 38 per cent of B.C.’s total output to grower co-op Ocean Spray. The province’s 6,500 acres of cranberry bogs put B.C. fourth in Ocean Spray’s North American production, after Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Quebec.
Cranberry is a bog plant, grown on a dry soil in the lowlands, along irrigation canals. There are two ways to harvest cranberries. The dry method is to pluck berries off the bushes, and a much smarter method — to flood the bushes.
Cranberries have one important feature: they are hollow inside. When put in water, they float rather than drown.
In mid-October the cranberry harvesting in the Fraser River Valley begins with flooding the field up to a depth of about half a meter — the water level just above the height of the bushes.
Next show up the harvesters, up to their waists in the water, equipped with the threshers. These wheeled machines, called beaters, work their way around a flooded Richmond cranberry bog.
Richmond cranberry harvesters look very colorful. Here’s New India for you.
Note that workers wear life jackets. Well, as we all know, one can drown even in a glass of water.
Last year, one of the Richmond cranberry harvesters actually drowned. It is unknown whether or not he had a life jacket on.
Knocked off the bushes berries float in a thick layer on the surface of the water.
After the beating, more water is pumped in to float the cranberries. Wading workers use plastic booms to gather the fruit, the way fishermen use nets to gather fish.
Mechanical berry pumps are used to fire the fruit into waiting semi-trailer trucks.
Unlike the berries harvested using the dry method, cranberries harvested in the bogs are not suitable for long-term storage and should be immediately processed or frozen.
Over 90% of Northern American cranberries harvested using this method.
And from all the Canadian harvest cranberries 95% falls on the Fraser River Valley in British Columbia – about 17 million kilograms per square 1150 hectares (11.5 km2).
The total area of all the cranberry bogs in North America is only 12 thousand hectares (120 km2)
The plant received its name for the shape of its flowers reminiscent of the long crane necks with long beaks.
If not crane than a heron is seen en flight against a red background.
When America became independent, US Navy ships carried stashes of cranberries as a source of vitamin C to maintain healthy immune system of ships’ crew. The British, at the time, carried lime fruits aboard.
One of the specific properties of cranberries is the ability to enhance manyfold the effect of antibiotics on human bodies.
These berries are a natural analogue of aspirin.
The bogs of Richmond yield anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 pounds of cranberries per acre.
If you want to see the cranberry harvest in Vancouver, you may do so from mid-October to early November. Times may vary slightly from year to year. Here are the addresses of several cranberry farms in the area:
- 3362 No 7 Rd Richmond, BC V6V 1T3
- Maybog Farm, 15411 Cambie Rd Richmond, BC V6V 1T3
- Jagbar Farms Ltd, 3011 Nelson Rd Richmond, BC V6W 1G3
- B K Ranch Ltd, 21551 Westminster Hwy Richmond, BC V6V 1B3
Most of the material and all the pictures are courtesy of the article Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде (in Russian.)