BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker declared October as “Massachusetts Cranberry Month” for the third consecutive year. In celebration of this declaration, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux, state and local officials, and representatives from the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association visited Federal Furnace Cranberry Company in the Town of Carver to encourage residents to purchase locally-produced cranberry products. The recent visit to Federal Furnace included a proclamation declaring October “Massachusetts Cranberry Month”, and a tour of their bog to witness the harvesting taking place.
“The Baker-Polito Administration is proud to support cranberry growers, who make significant contributions to the Commonwealth’s agricultural sector and local economies,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “Our local growers are true stewards of the land, implementing the latest in proprietary technology and equipment to harvest their fruit, and utilizing innovative methods that conserve water and protect Massachusetts’ natural resources.”
Massachusetts is the oldest cranberry-growing region in the country. Today, there are approximately 13,000 acres of commercial bogs in the state, primarily in Plymouth, Bristol, and Barnstable counties. In 2021, the total value of utilized Massachusetts cranberry production was over $60 million. Cranberries are a leading commercial crop grown in the Commonwealth, producing nearly 25% of the nation’s cranberry supply.
“As a side dish at Thanksgiving dinner, served dried on oatmeal or salads, or enjoyed in a glass in juice form, cranberries are a mighty multi-purpose fruit with enormous health benefits,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “Autumn in Massachusetts is a special time for many reasons, but chief among them is the breathtaking scenery and imagery that takes shape across “Cranberry Country” in Southeastern Massachusetts when the harvest season is in full swing and bogs are awash in crimson. It’s absolutely fitting that we celebrate this superfruit in October.”
Massachusetts’ cranberry industry, through crop production, processing, and manufacturing, is an essential sector of the state’s agriculture economy. Additionally, increasing the efficiency of water use in cranberry production is key to conserving water while minimizing off-target movement of nutrients and pesticides, which will help to preserve water quality and ensuring the sustainability of cranberry production in the Commonwealth.
“The hard-working cranberry growers of Massachusetts are honored that the Baker-Polito Administration is once again recognizing October as cranberry month in the Commonwealth,” said Brian Wick, Executive Director of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, serving growers from all of Massachusetts. “Despite the significant drought that impacted many of our cranberry farms this growing season, with some recent rain events, along with resourceful and innovative growers, we are excited for an expected good cranberry crop this year.”
In August 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration announced $7.75 million in funding to support infrastructure upgrades, including the design, construction, retrofitting, and outfitting of enhanced laboratory space at the University of Massachusetts Cranberry Station in Wareham. The funding will be used to modernize and expand its research facilities, improve the facility’s environmental profile, and provide the research tools needed to support vigorous research programs in cranberry water, pest, and nutrient management. Working closely with area growers, the Station is a vital outreach and research center charged with maintaining and enhancing the economic viability of the Massachusetts cranberry industry. The official groundbreaking occurred in October of 2021, with ongoing construction currently underway, with anticipated completion in early 2023.
“Cranberries are an essential part of the economy and culture of the Southcoast,” said Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport). “This month, we honor growers across Cranberry Country and the iconic regional fruit they harvest; I am proud to represent many of them and champion substantive legislation to advance the cranberry industry as a whole.”
“I am extremely pleased to be celebrating October 2022 as Massachusetts Cranberry Month,” said Dean of the Massachusetts Senate Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton). “The Commonwealth’s cranberry industry has historically served as one of our most abundant statewide agricultural sectors – especially in the Southeast region I proudly represent. With Massachusetts responsible for over 1/5 of our country’s domestic cranberry production, I am glad we are taking the opportunity to recognize the valuable opportunities that this agricultural sector continues to provide for our Commonwealth.”
“The cranberry harvest is an ideal time to publicly recognize the contributions that cranberries and cranberry growers have made to the commonwealth’s economy and culture for more than 200 years, and with my partners in the legislature and administration, I will continue to advocate for state initiatives that support growers as they adapt to climate change and a challenging global market,” said State Representative Bill Straus (D-Mattapoisett), who has served as co-chair of the UMass-Amherst Cranberry Station Board of Oversight since 2015.
“The cranberry industry has been of vital importance to agriculture in the Commonwealth and especially here on the south coast, the heart of cranberry country,” said State Representative Susan Gifford (R-Wareham). “We are grateful to have an Administration that recognizes the important role cranberries play in our economy and the challenges that face our growers. I was honored to have served as a member of the Cranberry Revitalization Task force and I am pleased that we are still seeing the benefits of our work.”
In recent years, the Baker-Polito Administration has worked in partnership with stakeholders to strengthen and the support the cranberry industry. In October 2019, the Administration announced $991,837 to 21 cranberry growers for bog renovation projects in MDAR’s Massachusetts Cranberry Bog Renovation Enhancement Grant Program to help renovate existing cranberry bogs, providing higher yields and more efficient methods of cranberry production for participating growers. Furthermore, in June 2017, the Massachusetts Cranberry Revitalization Task Force released its final report with recommendations to preserve and strengthen Massachusetts’ cranberry industry. The Task Force, composed of 18 government officials and stakeholders within the cranberry industry, was created by the Legislature in July 2015 to examine the status of the industry and the complex challenges ahead and to develop a multi-pronged action plan geared toward stabilizing and revitalizing the cranberry industry.
For more information regarding the cranberry industry or details on how to visit a cranberry bog this fall, including tours that are being offering every weekend in October and the first weekend in November, please visit the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association’s (CCCGA) website.
–Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs