Our commitment at Fresh Meadows Farm is to provide the highest quality fresh organic cranberries to our customers each season. This commitment extends through all aspects of the operation. We take great care in the production, transportation, sorting, and packing to attempt to reach this goal each year and to ensure the full integrity of the organic process.
After a three-year transition to organic certification, Fresh Meadows Farm was formed in 2008. Despite the many challenges facing us over the years, we are proud to have not only remained viable but have expanded our operation. Growing organic cranberries here in southeastern Massachusetts presents many challenges. Very few organic cranberry acres exist here in the state. The majority of the organic cranberries available in the U.S. market today are imported from Canada, where pest challenges are much lower due mostly to colder growing conditions. These imports consist of mostly higher producing hybrid varieties. Our strategy at Fresh Meadows Farm has been to grow only heirloom varieties, which we feel are better suited to organic production in this region. Our varieties consist of the smaller Early Black and Howe varieties. These varieties of cranberry vines are two of southeastern Massachusetts’ few remaining heirloom varieties grown commercially today. Although fungal, insect, and weed pressures cannot be completely controlled organically, they must be held in check for us to remain viable. With organic production, we need to take a more macro approach to pest and nutrient management. A pest balance and long-term soil stability must be maintained. Traditional cultural controls such as floods and sanding are used more frequently. Our water source must be free of any residues and contaminants and is tested regularly.
The lifestyle associated with growing cranberries has now touched five generations in our family!
Construction of the Fresh Meadows Farm cranberry bogs was begun in 1945 by John Alves. Although John passed before construction was completed, his son Arthur and daughter Albertina completed the project two years later. John was a first-generation immigrant of Cape Verdean descent. Like many others of his generation, he emigrated from the Cape Verde Islands to escape a drought-induced hardship and to try and create a better opportunity for his family. Born on the island of Fogo, he left a culture rich in the tradition of farming. This background led him and many of his countrymates to find a home in the emerging cranberry industry here in southeastern Massachusetts.
The cranberry dry harvest has a rich history and is interwoven into the fabric of Massachusetts culture and demographics. Cranberries, one of three native North American fruits were handpicked by Native Americans and the early settlers for centuries. With the escalation of commercial production during the latter part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century, came an increasing demand for migrant labor. These opportunities played a large role in shaping the early geographical patterns of the Cape Verdean emigration. The ancestral heritage of Fresh Meadows Farm is directly tied to the labor demands created by this rapidly expanding cranberry industry, (more specifically the cranberry dry harvest!).
Today we are proud to still operate the cranberry bog that my grandfather, John began construction of in the fresh meadows of Carver.
The Dry Harvest
Fresh Meadows Farm is dry harvested for high-quality fresh and frozen cranberries. Dry harvesting, once the predominant means of harvesting cranberries throughout the industry, today accounts for less than five percent of the total cranberry harvest. The vast majority of cranberries are wet harvested for the process market. The wet harvest techniques allow for a very efficient means of moving large quantities of fruit from the vines in a short period of time. These cranberries are utilized in juice, craisins, and an assortment of other cranberry products available on the market.
Fresh fruit harvests have also evolved over the years. More efficient means of harvesting and handling fruit are designed for larger-scale fresh fruit operations. Our fresh fruit operation at Fresh Meadows Farm relies on more traditional harvesting and sorting techniques. Although slower, we are able to harvest incrementally as we get to market. This allows us the ability to maximize freshness and color to the customers.
Give us a try!