Historic Birch Lodge

Historic Birch Lodge
Historic Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Centennial Cranberry Farm

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Centennial Cranberry Farm, Paradise, MI
Thinking about craisins for my oatmeal got me thinking about the Centennial Cranberry Farm up on Whitefish Point.  Whitefish Point is only about 45 minutes north of Birch Lodge on M 123, so we followed the sign pointing off M 123 and went for a visit.
Lake Superior Dune, Whitefish Point MI

The farm is located on a natural cranberry bog adjacent the dunes along Lake Superior's south shore.  It truly feels in a world of its own, with only wild lands bordering it to the west, it seems an outpost.

Cranberries, Whitefish Point, MI

Currently there are thirteen acres of improved fields planted with cultivated strains of cranberries.

Centennial Cranberry Farm was founded in 1876 by John Clarke, the great-uncle of the current owner Loren House.  He had visited the area while working as a fisherman in  1873, and felt that the berries here could be cultivated and turned into a business. 

We met Loren in the gift shop, and were disappointed to learn that the hot dry summer had devastated the crop.  So few berries were produced that they had not been harvested.  He graciously let us wander through the cranberry fields, and told us about the video, equipment and old photos on display for visitors.

For harvest, the fields are usually flooded by pumping water from a small lake bordering the fields, which allows the berries to float to the top of the water as the mechanical harvester threshes the berries off of the vines.

  A boom is then deployed on the water to collect the raft of berries, which are then scooped up a conveyor onto a truck.  The berries are then shipped to Wisconsin for further processing.

Loren said he is thinking of retiring, and is hoping the grandsons will continue to farm the bog, but he is a little uncertain they will continue the business.  I hope they will---this is really a fascinating place to see.   It made our visit with him kind of like the cranberries--a little bittersweet.

Vintage photos and harvest photos curtesy of the Centennial Cranberry Farm....oh and Bill thinks he might make a cranberry farmer.....

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