It's a taste of the holidays. Tart and crisp and a good addition to just about anything on the menu -- the versatile cranberry.
"It's native -- it's one of the few fruits that's are native to North America," said Bob Lesnikoski, also known as Cranberry Bob. Lesnikowski started Vermont Cranberry Company five years ago.
Reporter Gina Bullard: "Why cranberries?"
Bob Lesnikoski: "It's a question asked of me every day and I don't have a concrete answer."
Most people are used to seeing cranberries grown in water, but it's not necessary. Here in Vermont, Cranberry Bob grows them over two acres -- in fields -- digging out beds and then watering them frequently.
"Cranberry agriculture is made up of very few growers," Lesnikoski said. "It's a low trailing vine. The pickers are only 70 or 80 percent efficient so once this is flooded we will retrieve all these dropped berries and press them into juice."
After being harvested, he uses a 1912 bounce board to sort out the best fruit. Lesnikoski says even though it's an antique it's still the only technology out there to sort the berries -- a new machine does the same thing. Then the best looking ones get packed and shipped to stores. This year the company will ship out 15-thousand pounds of cranberries, making up 60-percent of the business. The bruised berries make up the rest of the bottom line, going into wine and juice. Boyden Valley only uses his fruit in its cranberry wine.
The berry business is growing as more people want to buy local. The fruit is sold in many Vermont stores and also used in Restaurants. Cranberry Bob says this is his busiest year. He doesn't have the numbers yet, but says his family and a neighbor have been working day and night for two months.
"People in Vermont really support Vermont farmers -- it's not a fad."
He hopes the fruit will make it onto tables year round, but he knows for many, the holidays aren't complete without cranberries.
"It's really satisfying to sit down at the Thanksgiving meal and think about how many tables our berries are at at that moment -- it's thousands and that's really gratifying," he said.
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