Sunday was Atlantic Open Farm Day. Fifty farms across Nova Scotia were open to the public, and we decided to visit a cranberry farm about a 1/2 hour drive from our home.Terra Beata Farms (http://www.cranberryfarm.ca/) had tours of their cranberry bogs and production facility throughout the day. The cranberries are grown in 1 1/2 acre plots (some are 3 acres, but will be divided in half). The ground is peat moss...up to 12 feet deep in some places!When it comes time to harvest the cranberries (usually mid October), they flood the plots one by one and use 2 of these machines to churn up the berries:The 4 wheels across the front churn up the berries while someone walks behind the machine. It's all pretty much manual labour. The berries are taken to holding tanks, and then are sorted in the facility by this machine: (in a previous life it was used by Highliner Foods to sort scallops)The machine takes out the squashed and mushy berries. The berries are then frozen, then sliced. (they have to be frozen first because they would only last about 2 days). After slicing, the berries are put into these metal boxes, which fit into the dryer (shown behind the metal boxes)Sugar is added, and then the berries are turned into the different products they sell. All their juices are not made from concentrate....which of course is a much purer juice than the mass market cranberry juices at the grocery stores. A stack of bottles waiting to be filled:We tried jams (my favourite was orange cranberry) and mincemeats, and all sorts of baked goods. Reading this post makes it all sound rather dull and boring, but I found everything to be really interesting. The farm has been operating for 10 years, and is expanding their equipment and staff to deal with larger customers and orders. It made me think a lot about our dog biscuit business that we sold earlier this year after 10 years in business. While we were in business, it was a constant struggle between whether to grow the business, or hold it at a manageable size without growing into mass production. We had a great discussion with the owner about this, and it was exciting for me to see a family business expanding the way they are.
Here is one of the recipes created by Terra Beata Farms: (and I can vouch that it is very, very good and very, very addictive!)
Warm Cranberry Dip
1 cup Miracle Whip
1 package (250g) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup each: cranberry sauce, grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup each: sliced green onions, toasted sliced almonds
Mix all ingredients together in a pie plate or ovenproof serving dish. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, stirring once during baking or heat in microwave about 5 minutes, stirring once. Serve warm with crackers ao sliced raw vegetables.