Aside from being a necessity on your Thanksgiving plate, the cranberry is the state’s number one agricultural commodity crop, according to the Cape Cod Cranberry Grower’s Association, and Massachusetts is home to more than 14,000 acres of working cranberry bogs.
Here are five Massachusetts bogs you can tour before hauling home some antioxidant-filled, superfood goodness. Make sure you plan ahead, though—most of these spots require you to preschedule your tour.
A.D. Makepeace Company has been in the business of growing cranberries for quite a long time: The farm dates back to the 1800s. Currently, the company harvests nearly 2,000 acres of cranberry bog in Southeastern Massachusetts. The farm, which just hosted its 13th annual Cranberry Harvest celebration, offers hour-and-a-half guided tours throughout October that get you up close and personal with the bogs to learn the history of the cranberry industry. You can also call ahead to see what area they will be harvesting that day and go watch on your own—preferably while enjoying a cranberry-filled baked good from their farm store. Official public tours are limited so be sure to register in advance. (A.D. Makepeace Company, 146 Tihonet Road, Wareham; 508-295-1000)
Daily, year-round tours of Cape Cod’s largest organic cranberry bog are focused on not only how cranberries are harvested in the fall, but also the farm’s daily operation year round. Visitors will also get a chance to spend time with the farm’s animals and stop by the farmstand to pick up farm fresh eggs and cranberry treats. The farm says the 1.5-hour tours fill up fast, so be sure to make a reservation. (Cape Cod Cranberry Bog Tours, 1601 Factory Road, Harwich; 508-432-0790)
After a bog-side chat about cranberry farming, this tour takes you into the screen house to help sort cranberries out of the farm’s antique separator and into boxes. After the tour, explore the farm’s 100 acres, which include a gift store, natural pond, reservoirs, a large swamp, a blueberry patch, and Christmas trees. (Flax Pond Farms, 58 Pond St., Carver; 508-866-3654)
This 112-acre farm has more than 23 acres of active cranberry bogs that you can preregister to tour from either the shore or within the bog harvesting berries. If that sounds a little too hands-on, you can also “adopt a bog,” which is the farm’s version of a CSA. For $150, you are guaranteed 30 pounds of clean, fresh cranberries shipped to you in an antique wooden box. (Mayflower Cranberries, 72 Brook St., Plympton; 781-585-1999)
Joanne and Scott Harding have been growing cranberries at this farm for more than 30 years, but it wasn’t until three seasons ago that they started offering immersive cranberry tours (literally). Seven days a week throughout October, you can take a $25 tour that begins with a talk about cranberry history and an opportunity to see antique cranberry equipment. Then it’s time to put on your chest waders and head into the water. You’ll get the chance to walk out onto the bog with cranberries floating around you. And don’t worry: Joanne said your guide will take and email you photos of your adventure. Preregistration is required. (Stone Bridge Farm, 186 Leonard St., Acushnet; 508-951-1551)