Bogged Down in Midtown

Posted on 08. Dec, 2009 by in Uncategorized

by Emily Johnson


October 6, 2009

When he was nine years old, Peter Beaton used to go straight from the Little League field to his family’s cranberry bog in Lakeville, Mass. He would work till 8 or 9 at night still in his baseball uniform.

Now 62, the fifth-generation cranberry grower stood in midtown Manhattan today – and his feet were still solidly planted in a bog.

“I do this till I drop in the water,” he said, waders on and rake in hand.

With cranberry growers around the northern U.S. and Canada hard at work in the peak of harvest season, Ocean Spray brought a free-standing bog and 2000 pounds of cranberries to Rockefeller Plaza for the fifth year running. The grower-owned cooperative celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, and several generations of its members were on hand to kick off their new health, history, and heritage compaign.


Nine years ago, the cranberry industry was in a crisis with prices at a record low due to overproduction. Through expanding its international sales, it has bounced back. Smart advertising and a focus on the cranberry’s nutritional power haven’t hurt, either.

Signs ringing the makeshift bog proclaimed cranberries “The Wonderberry.” Each contained facts about the berry’s history and richness in antioxidants.

“They’re nature’s medicine,” said Beaton.

Some familiar faces were there to mark the occasion: Justin and Henry, the comical duo from Ocean Spray’s successful “Straight from the Bog” advertising campaign.

Manhattanites who work in the area know that when the cool air of October arrives, the bog can’t be far behind. Kevin Scarlett, 41, was delighted to see it return. “I actually drink cranberry juice all the time,” he said. “I’m glad it’s back, and I immediately looked for the free juice.”

Organizers anticipate handing out 38,000 bottles of Ocean Spray juice by the end of the event.

The bog will stay at Rockefeller Plaza for three days as Ocean Spray attempts to educate the public about the heritage and health benefits of the small red berry that, along with the Concord grape and the blueberry, is one of only three fruits native to North America.

One of the growers whose face will soon appear on Ocean Spray products is Adrienne Kravitz. Kravitz, 37, was married at her family’s bog in Bridgewater, Mass. and her sister recently made plans to tie the knot there as well.

“My father told her, ‘You have to get married before harvest or you have to wait till winter,’” said Kravitz.

A love of the outdoors and the beauty of the work seems to keep these generations of growers coming back to the business of berries.

“It feels like home,” said Peter Beaton.

Of all the ways to eat a cranberry – juice, jelly, sauce – the simplest is his favorite.

“Right here,” he said, popping one in his mouth straight from the bog.


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