As Fall days fast approach I was excited to get an invite to the “Bog”
at 3rd generation Hopcott Farms.
Hoppcot’s is a 3rd generation farm becoming well known for its local meats raised on its own land touting antibiotic and hormone free local offerings.
The Hopcott family started as a dairy farm in approx 1934 and in 1957 the dairy herd was sold to help Fred Hopcott realize his dream of raising beef cattle. Over the years the farm has changed with the times and as all good farmers with vision are pushed to evolve to survive.
Overtime Bob Hopcott saw the writing on the wall as he saw many local packers disappear he realized that he would have to continue to diversify. In 1996 Bob Hopcott heard that Ocean Spray Cranberries was looking for acres to plant Bob singed up and converted approx 70 acres of corn fields into cranberry bogs.
We were lucky enough to meet Bob along with Geraldine Austin from BC Cranberries and some of the great team from Hopcott Farms responsible for this magic little berry.
*Approx eighty growers located in the fertile lower Fraser Valley and on Vancouver Island produce over 750,000 barrels (1 barrel = 100 lbs) of cranberries annually, accounting for up to approx. 12% of cranberry production in North America.
*It takes approx 3-5 years for a cranberry Dwarf shrub or vine to start bearing fruit.
*There are basically two ways to harvest a cranberry – Wet-picked or dry picked.
*A natural predator to the cranberry- a tip worm which can destroy a harvest
Known health facts related to Cranberries
The majority of physicians and other health professionals believe there is a clear association between a diet high in fruits and vegetables and a low risk of chronic disease. Phytonutrients (naturally derived plant compounds), particularly antioxidants, are increasingly being shown to help optimize human health.
Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins (PACs) that can prevent the adhesion of certain of bacteria, including E. coli, associated with urinary tract infections to the urinary tract wall. The anti-adhesion properties of cranberry may also inhibit the bacteria associated with gum disease and stomach ulcers.
Recent scientific research shows that cranberries and cranberry products contain significant amounts of antioxidants and other phytonutrients that may help protect against heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
this is a great link to WH Foods that keys in on further health benefits to this magic little berry
A small group of us were lucky enough to dawn the “waders” and go into the bog to gain a better understanding of the wet-picked harvest. The wet-picked or harvested cranberry is generally destined to head to the Ocean spray juice or Craisins plants for processing after the “washing/cleaning” process is completed locally.
The cranberries are wet-picked or harvested by first flooding the field (which was a bit of a challenge to farmers this year due to our great weather) and then once the berry has floated to the surface (they are basically a hollow berry, so easily want to rise to the top) they are collected with these large booms and brought to one end of the field where they can be pulled out by a conveyor that brings the berry out of the field and into trucks.
From what I gathered the largest % of cranberries are wet-picked and a small % are dry picked and can usually be found at your markets and veggie stands for a limited time generally for you to use in baking or homemade cranberry sauces. The greater % of cranberries are destined for Ocean spray to convert into delicious cranberry juices or the ever popular Craisin.
This crop has to be a labor of love as though the cranberry is a fairly hearty fruit, it is subject to a few natural predators that can destroy a crop if not tended to.
The best part of my experience was getting to meet the farmer, the face, personality and passion behind our foods. This experience helps educate us about where our foods come from, as well as learning what the passion is behind what we so conveniently just find in the grocery store.
Eat local, buy local, support local is easier today than ever if you take the time to embrace it. It is a healthier way to eat and it is a more economical way for us to support local producers.
Let’s be honest, we don’t have access to everything locally as some of our favourite fresh foods and fruits just aren’t grown locally or are seasonal. Does this mean that we can’t do everything we can to eat fresh, eat better, eat locally? I don’t think so.
This was a great experience and not my last. I do intend to start a series of postings (as time allows) focusing on local products from our local farms / orchards / wineries as well as their specific growing and processing practices.
Hopcott Farms gets a thumbs up from me on their promise to grow, produce and process in the most responsible practices within their ability.
Thank you to Bob Hopcott and Geraldine from Bc cranberry for your hospitality and the excellent education through this great experience.
1 pound of fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup water
1 3/4 cup sugar (use raw or cane)
The zest & juice from one orange
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
1/2 tsp of allspice
1 cinnamon stick
Put the cranberries, sugar and water in a saucepan and heat on med high to a boil & the reduce to a simmer, add in the spices and cinnamon stick and simmer for approx 5-7 mins more.
Add in the orange juice and rind in the last min and stir in.
Pull out the cinnamon stick and then refrigerate
Yields approx 2 cups of the most delicious Cranberry sauce! Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!
Buy Local/ Eat Local/ Support Local
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