There is even a global demand to strap on a pair of waders and live life like an Ocean Spray commercial. Tourists from England, France, Italy, and Germany have all lent a hand at Mayflower Cranberries.
In a way, it makes perfect sense since the market for cranberries in Europe is booming. Approximately 30 percent of the US crop is now sent overseas — the majority of LaFleur’s harvest will be bound for Europe. There is also a high demand for juice and sweet dried cranberries, which have found their way onto bakers’ shelves on the continent.
Increased exports have led a rebound in the cranberry industry, which suffered the economic fallout of oversupply in the late 1990s.
Farmers like LaFleur still face other challenges on a daily basis, among them pests and damaging frosts. But they have gotten a boost from scientific and technological advances. For instance, growers can now monitor soil moisture data in real time and activate irrigation systems with the touch of a smartphone. Innovations such as this have led to a nearly 50 percent increase in nationwide cranberry production in the last decade.
Yet there remains something to be said for old-fashioned muscle power.
“It’s great to see our visitors out in the bogs,” said LaFleur. “Since they are experiencing it for the first time, they bring a fresh excitement to the harvest every year.”
Matthew Bellico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.