Ever since I first saw the first cranberry fields twenty years ago, I wanted to watch how the bright red berries are harvested. From stories and photos, I knew that water mattered, and in some New England shots, cranberry farmers were shown shoving the cranberries together on flooded fields and finally loading them onto waiting trucks that took them should transport for further processing. Now, on my recent trip to Canada, I had the opportunity to visit the only cranberry farm in Ontario, and I did not have much to think about. I did not want to miss this opportunity to finally satisfy my curiosity. We put Johnston's Cranberry Marsh in Bala in the Muskoka region on our itinerary.
Johnston's Cranberry Marsh in Bala
The Johnston's Cranberry Farm is located just outside the small town of Bala in the beautiful Muskoka region, which is ideal for growing cranberries. This requires acidic peat soil and proximity to water, which is abundant there. The lakes seldom disappeared from view as we drove through Muskoka, and if at all, then only when we were crossing a small land bridge between two of them. Sometimes it was so narrow that the water was even on both sides of the street. The area is also known for its silted lakes. There dense reeds grow on the edge of shallow pools. This reed grass rots on the lake floor and fills it up slowly from below. This process is repeated until the entire lake disappears under a vegetative blanket, and a peat bog is created - ideal soil on which cranberries feel comfortable.
Cultivation and use of cranberries
The Johnston family of farmers from Bala recognized the potential and cleared several hectares of land on which they planted cranberries. At the same time, they created a network of channels that can be flooded via valves if necessary. The end of September - we were there on September 26th - is harvest time at the Cranberry Farm. And then you can watch what happens to the red berries. Guided tours are offered, and the farm shop sells freshly picked berries, as well as cranberry wine and various jams made from cranberries and other berries. Raw cranberries taste very bitter, so the wine and jams are combined with other fruits. Raw berries are suitable for juice production, as an ingredient for cakes or pastries and for sauces or must, whereby they are used as with us cranberries as an accompaniment to game meat.
Harvest of cranberries in Ontario
The harvest of cranberries in Ontario is different from what I knew from New England. The berries of Ontario are sometimes sold as raw fruits, unlike in the Cape Cod area, where they are mostly used for juicing. For this reason, the berries must be harvested more carefully than there, and so I came here for the expected pleasure of once seeing the farmers trudging through the bright red water. Although the fields are also flooded with water here, to ensure a careful harvest. Unlike in the south, however, a harvester is used here, which carefully picks the berries from the bushes and collects them in a container. They do not swim in the fields, as in the Cape Cod area, but are immediately collected. From the fields, the berries are transported to a scaffold, where they dry in the sun. Then they are sorted by size and color and packed according to their purpose. The uninjured and deep red berries are sold in the supermarkets of the area. Cracked berries and those that are ripe but have not yet developed their red color are used to make wine or for processing into chutneys, marmalades or sauces.
And my farmers in the flooded ponds full of red cranberries? For that I have to go to New England ...
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A visit to Johnston's Cranberry Farm is possible year-round: 1074 Cranberry Road, Bala, Ontario. P0C 1A0 Tel. 705-762-3203 Fax 705-762-3213.
Lufthansa, Air Canada and several other airlines fly to Toronto.
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Source: own on-site research courtesy of Tourism Ontario and the Canada Tourism Commission
Text: © Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Video: © Copyright Petar Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Monika Fuchs and Petar Fuchs are the publishers of the Trips to Savor and Slow Travel Blog TravelWorldOnline Traveler , They have been publishing this blog since 2005. TravelWorldOnline is online since 2001.
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Monika Fuchs has been working in tourism since 1990. She has been a tour guide on four continents for 17 years and has accompanied high-class trips through North and Central America, Australia, southern Africa and Europe. Since 2001 she has been a writer and photographer for TravelWorldOnline and writes as a freelance journalist for DIE ZEIT Online and travel magazines such as 360 ° Medien, TRIVAGO, Expedia, travador, etc. She also writes travel guides about destinations and enjoyment destinations all over the world. Your guide about Canada's east was released in 2020. Petar Fuchs produced the videos on this blog as well YouTube.
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