New England Bucket List: Wading into a Cranberry Bog

Getting knee-deep into a cranberry bog with waders on has long been an item on my New England bucket list. Did you know cranberries are native to New England, like their cousin the blueberry? Without New England the world would not know the tart-sweetness of this red fruit. (England has a relative, but not quite our cranberry.) From a visit to a Cape Cod Festival years back my family found the recipe for our holiday favorite, Cranberry P’Cake. There are other cranberry bog tours in New England, but we loved our family run tour with Stone Bridge Farms in Acushnet, Massachusetts. It was the coolest thing my family experienced this fall– agreed on by the youngest of us to the senior members.

Get into a cranberry bog in Massachusetts

A Little about Cranberries

cranberry farm tours in New England
Because Stone Bridge Farms keeps a bog dry, you can see the vines and berries close up- even have a taste. We toured on the most perfect of fall days, but you can see winter approaching from the ice left over from the night.

Cranberries are grown in on low-lying vines in clay and sand-lined bogs. Bogs are sort of like valleys and were created by glaciers long ago. These bogs are a unique ecosystem for not only cranberries, but also unique life and there are many around New England. You can read more about them here.

About Stone Bridge Farm

New England cranberry farm
Happy cranberry vines hanging out under the water. These plants come back year after year in New England, a happy environment for them.

One thing I love about the farm is that it is family-run for over 25 years. Most of the farms around New England are family-run, but also sell their fruit to large distributors such as Ocean Spray.

The cranberry farm sits in a residential neighborhood. There is a marked parking lot. If you take one of the first spots, it is a little confusing where you need to go. We almost knocked on a house door. If you walk to the other side of the parking lot, it will be more obvious to check in at the barn.

The house has a little store in it, with yummy things to buy, as well as cranberries.

How to book a tour at Stone Bridge Farm

Book a tour time online. Tours are offered every half an hour, 7 days a week for the month of October. They sell out months in advance, so I would recommend booking your tour by the end of July if you want your choice of days and times. The cost is $30 a person. It was a bit confusing to book, because you book one reservation for your whole party and pay for everyone but the first person when you arrive at the farm.

What you Will Learn on the Cranberry Tour

The owners of the farm give the tour, which is pretty cool.

The tour starts with a history of cranberry farming in New England and a view of some of the tools used, both current and antique.

Then we learned about the difference between dry and wet cranberry harvesting. During October, the farm has both a dry bog and a wet blog. It is pretty interesting to compare the two.

Dry Cranberry farming
In spring, the bogs are full of cranberry flowers. That would be a sight to see! Here is a dry cranberry bog in fall.

I had no idea that all cranberries weren’t picked in flooded bogs! In dry harvesting, the berries are picked, using various methods, from the intact, above ground plants. Dry harvesting is used to get cranberries to use as fruit… pretty cranberries.

It makes sense to learn that wet harvests are quicker. The bog is flooded during a wet harvest and all the berries are reigned in and collected. But the fruit isn’t pretty as it has gone through a lot, so these berries are used for juicing and such.

wet cranberry harvest in Massachusetts
Here is a flooded cranberry bog. The cranberries are corralled to catch them easier. The men are using something that looks like a rake.

The Highlight of the Cranberry Tour

The part we all came for- the donning of waders and climbing into the bog for a perfect picture opportunity. It was everything we hoped for and my ten-year-old son did not want to get out.

I was concerned about what shoes to wear as I didn’t want to ruin them getting into the bog. I shouldn’t have worried. You actually take your shoes off and the waders cover your clothing. The bog feels cold through the plastic waders, but you come out just as clean as you went in. The owner is happy to take pictures for you.

Picture yourself in a cranberry bog.
We got a nice picture all looking forward, but I love this one which shows how much the boys loved the experience of being in the bog.

In reality, the whole tour was even better than we hoped. I came with two tweens, myself and three seniors. Everyone was educated and entertained. Be sure to add this experience to your New England fall bucket list.

Read on for more fabulous ideas for things to do in New England in fall.

Have you been to a cranberry bog? Tell me about it in the comments.

If you liked it, please share it. Thank you!

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