FLAX POND CRANBERRY CO. CARVER, MASSACHUSETTS
Flax Pond Cranberry Co., is a 100 acre family farm owned and operated by Jack and Dorothy Angley. The property, which was purchased in 1967, consists of 34 acres of producing cranberry bog, a 10 acre pond, 40 acres of woodland (including 4000 fraser fir christmas trees), and 20 acres of reservoir. The cranberry bogs have been in production since the early 1890"s and today produce 150 to 200 barrels per acre (in a good year) of fresh fruit for Ocean Spray Cranberries.
Water is essential for growing cranberries and this property, which is a wetland system some five feet above an adjacent river, functions as one of the water collecting areas for the Weweantic River Basin. As there is no source of running water through the property, the pond and reservoir which would dry up during the summer, can be maintained at reasonable levels by recycling rainfall and surface runoff collected in the bogs. Even in drought years the wetland system works to provide sufficient water for sprinkler irrigation for frost protection in the spring and fall and for summer watering. Although cranberry is a wetland crop, the dry harvested bogs are flooded only during the winter for protection from killing winds and low temperatures.
We employ one full time worker year 'round; during harvest the work force expands to 10-12 part-time employees comprised of people from the local labor pool as well as our children, grandchildren and neighbors and their teenage children. Forty years ago the bogs were harvested by 25-30 workers using hand-held scoops and the berries were hauled to shore in 1/3 barrel boxes by wheelbarrows. Today, five Furford (pictured) harvesting machines pick the crop which is lifted by helicopter to waiting trucks.
In winter, when the flooded bogs freeze solidly enough to support sanding machines, 1/2 to one inch of sand is applied directly on the ice. The sand, which slowly melts through the ice, settles on the vines and stimulates new vine growth, and functions as a pesticide by smothering the wintering-over stages of some insect pests.
Whereas cranberry is a minor crop (25,000 acres nationwide) and there are relatively few pesticides registered for cranberry use, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) has been and continues to be important for pest control. Much of the late spring and summer is devoted to measuring and recording insect populations to assure proper timing for pesticides. The use of topical wipes for weed control has virtually eliminated the use of pre-emergent herbicides. Water is also an important pest management tool when shallow floods applied for brief periods in the spring and fall help to control some insects.
Farming in S.E.Massachusetts has declined dramatically in the last 50 years. The pressure of urbanization and residential development has forced out the dairy and poultry farms, leaving cranberry as the main farming entity. The 65,000 acres of bogs and open space maintained by the cranberry industry is the largest segment of privately owned land still undeveloped in S.E. Massachusetts. The question of land use is perhaps the biggest challenge facing our industry.
Jack and Dot Angley
Cranberry Juice Bottle Label
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