Sunday, 30 September 2007

A Visit to Wahta Mohawks - Iroquois Cranberry Growers

On our little camping trip, we headed up to Awenda Provincial Park. We decided to take a field trip to Iroquois Cranberry Growers, just outside of Bala. As it turned out, we were there just a day or two before harvest started.

NOTE: Bala will be having a Cranberry Festival on October 12, 13, and 14 - an excellent time to go and have fun, as well as stock up for yourself. Bala is home to Ontario's only two commercial cranberry farms. NOTE AGAIN: there are actually 3; one is just outside of Ottawa. See comments.

Wahta Mohawk trail guideThe cranberries are grown on quite a large farm, and there are trails one can walk on in addition to the roads through the bogs.

Wahta Mohawk cranberry storeThe store is an easily-accessible little building just off Highway 69 (Highway 400).

Inside the Wahta Mohawk cranberry storeI think if it's possible to do it with cranberries, they've done it. The mainstays though, I would think, are dried cranberries and pure cranberry juice. Prices are favourable compared to the mass-market retail brands, provided you stock up a bit. If you are a cranberry aficionado it is well worth it.

Checking out at the Wahta Mohawk cranberry storeWe bought a case of pure cranberry juice and 25 pounds of sweetened dried cranberries.

Overlooking the bogs at the Wahta Mohawk cranberry storeThe cranberry farm (bog) is directly behind the store. It's a long, skinny farm, snaking through the floodplain of a small river or stream. It isn't spectacularly wide, but it goes back a long way.

Wahta Mohawk cranberry bogWe walked through the farm. Those dusty, sandy Muskoka roads took me right back to my childhood, when we spent what seemed like endless summers at the cottage.

Road through the Wahta Mohawk cranberry bogAfter walking for several minutes, we came to a cross-road. The bog continued on in two different directions.

Pumphouse in the Wahta Mohawk cranberry bogTo harvest the berries, the bogs are flooded, the cranberries are knocked loose, and they are corralled from the surface, as they float like little boats.

Ripe cranberries ready to harvestRipe cranberries ready for harvest.

The start of the cranberry sorting processWe walked up to the processing shed. Although we were too early to watch the harvest, it looked like they were in the middle of doing a test run on the sorting machinery.

Cranberry sorting in processIt looked like quite the state-of-the-art contraption.

Cranberry sortingUp, up they go and into the shed.

Inside the cranberry sorting plantWhere, alas, very little was happening, apart from the fact that 2 men had the panels off and their heads stuck into the guts of the machinery. It is a fact not much publicized to the urban public, but it seems to me that if you want to be a farmer, you need to be a more than passable mechanic first!

A worker at the cranberry sorting plantWe chatted a bit with this lady; one of several workers hanging about waiting for the machine to be started.

Pure cranberry juice and sweetened dried cranberries from Iroquois Cranberry GrowersAs mentioned, we bought lots of dried sweetened cranberries and a case of pure juice. Should keep us for a little while... expect to see some cranberry recipes coming up soon!

4 comments:

crumpet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ferdzy said...

Well I don't think you can really help with the harvesting, but you can definitely visit - I did! In fact, right now is the time to go. There'll be more to see and do than when I was there.

DundasNotes said...

Great blog!! The recipes look yummy and I will certainly try a number of them.

I thought I'd let you know there are actually three cranberry growers in Ontario.

Upper Canada Cranberries, located in the south end of Ottawa, has been operating since 1999.

Ferdzy said...

Cool! Thanks, DundasNotes.

I do get out to Ottawa occasionally. Maybe someday I can check them out in person.