DID YOU KNOW?
The North American cranberry industry has a long and distinguished history. Native peoples used cranberries as food, in ceremonies and medicinally. They mixed cranberries with deer meat to make pemmican, a convenience food that could be kept for a long time. Medicine men used them as poultices to draw poison from arrow wounds, and women used the juice as a dye for cloth. In New Jersey, the Delaware Indians used them as peace symbols. They got their name, “crane berries,” from the early German and Dutch settlers who thought their blossoms resembled the neck and head of a crane.
Revolutionary War veteran Henry Hall planted the first commercial cranberry beds in Dennis Massachusetts in 1816. Today cranberries are farmed on approximately 40,000 acres (16,200 hectares) across the northern United States and Canada.
Cranberry cultivation in New Jersey is believed to have begun In 1840. The State Board of Agriculture report of 1874 states that in 1840 a man by the name of John Webb established a cranberry bog in Ocean County near Cassville, and it is reported that he received $50.00 per barrel for his cranberries. They were bought by ship merchants who sold them to whalers. Cranberries were kept on board ships in barrels of cold water for the sailors to eat. They contained Vitamin C and helped ward off scurvy, which plagued seafarers on long trips. When Cranberry grower Elizabeth Lee of New Egypt decided to boil some damaged berries instead of throwing them away, she liked the tasty jelly so much she started a business selling "Bog Sweet Cranberry Sauce." That was the beginning of the Ocean Spray company, which still operates in New Jersey today!
New Jersey is currently the third largest cranberry producing area in the United states following Massachusetts and Wisconsin. Currently, New Jersey has approximately 3,600 acres while Massachusetts has 11,000 acres. Burlington, Atlantic, and Ocean counties are major cranberry growing areas in New Jersey. The native fruit is also grown in Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Middlesex, and Monmouth counties.
The state's leading cranberry grower is William S. Haines of Chatsworth, who has over 700 acres planted in cranberries. Haines' family has a history of cranberry growing. His grandfather, Cap Haines, a Civil War veteran, built cranberry bogs in an area known as The Birches "about 1895," according to Bill.