Meet Our Researchers: Thierry Besançon

Welcome to the inaugural post of our new occasional feature: Meet Our Researchers! We’ve spent so much time talking about the excellent work being done at the Rutgers Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry & Cranberry Research that we thought it was time to learn a little more about the people behind the projects. This week: Dr. Thierry Besançon. For a close-up look at his work, check out the Weed Science Instagram account!

What drew you to your field/research focus?

I worked for 10 years in France on diseases and pest management research in stone fruit crops (peaches, plums, cherries…). So, I already had some type of connection with specialty crops before moving to the United States in 2010. In North Carolina, I was offered the opportunity to conduct research for getting a PhD, but I wanted to see and do something new… that’s when I decided to specialize in weed science. I thought it would be good to add weed science knowledge to what I already knew in pathology / entomology from my previous professional experience in Europe. When I joined Rutgers in 2016, I was delighted to be able to work again with specialty crops! But the most exciting thing was really working on cranberries… it’s a unique crop with very specific agronomic practices and very specific challenges, especially regarding weed control. Cranberry is a perennial crop, and most of the time, perennial crops have to deal with perennial weeds that are very challenging to control.

What do you consider your best accomplishment?

Over the last few years, I focused a large part of my research program to find solutions for preventing Carolina redroot (a perennial weed!) to outcompete cranberry vines in our New Jersey Cranberry bogs. Carolina redroot is a very troublesome weed… it competes with cranberry for light, nutrient and water and causes drastic yield and berry quality reduction. It is also very attractive as a food source for waterfowl and that is a problem because swans and geese can cause a lot of damage to cranberry vines when feeding on redroot! Yield losses caused by Carolina redroot average $800/acre. And Carolina redroot is only a problem in New Jersey cranberries as this weeds is virtually unknown further north or in Wisconsin!

Our weed science team spent a lot of time evaluating how Carolina redroot is affecting cranberry yield and quality and determining if some of the unique cranberry agronomic practices (flooding, irrigation, sanding…) may help suppressing Carolina redroot. We also evaluated different non-chemical and chemical options that can help controlling this noxious weeds. After 4 years of investigation, we know more about the biology and ecology of Carolina redroot, and we are now able to propose to the New Jersey cranberry growers a strategy to suppress this weed and restore the productivity of infested cranberry bogs. We still have many questions to answer… How does Carolina redroot propagate from bed to bed? Are we helping it to spread into non infested bogs when harvesting cranberries? Can we detect this weed early enough, so we don’t have to rely on using chemicals to control it?

What has been your biggest challenge?

Well, initial research on Carolina redroot was not easy because not many weed scientists have been investigating this species and we really started from scratch. Learning and understanding the cranberry cropping system was not easy because it is a very, very special crop that I could not compare to anything else I was familiar with. But I am lucky to have great people here in New Jersey in our grower community, with Ocean Spray, and Rutgers University who love cranberries and love transmitting their passion for this wonderful crop. I also have a great weed science team with my technician Baylee Carr, my graduate student Maggie Wasacz, and all the people who are working with us during the spring and summer months.

What are your long-term research goals?

With regards to cranberry, one of my long-term research goals is really to keep better understanding the ecology of some of our most troublesome weed species. We really need to know the details of their life and why they like our cranberry beds so much if we want to get a chance to be more efficient at controlling them in the future.

I am also interested at using new imagery and drone technology to improve the early detection of weed infestation in cranberry beds before weeds colonize entire beds after a few years. With early detection, we can focus our weed control strategies where we really need it. For some species, we could potentially avoid the use of herbicides and focus on non-chemical weed management strategies such as tarping, solarization or manual removal if we can detect the weeds early enough before they start getting a large-scale issue. I also think we’ll be looking at new nonchemical tools for controlling weeds… we have ideas regarding the use of electricity for killing the weeds and we may even have a portable prototype for testing this summer.

What do you enjoy most about working with the cranberry community?

All our New Jersey cranberry growers have been very supportive of my research program, and as a junior faculty, this is extremely important to know that my stakeholders are providing this support. I do not have a week without talking to one of our New Jersey growers or our Ocean Spray agronomists. We are doing applied research in my lab, and it is very important to stay connected with the reality and the challenges that growers are facing with weeds in their cranberry beds. That is very important to have this permanent link with our cranberry community because these discussions are feeding ideas for developing new research!

More personally, our New Jersey cranberry community has been very welcoming and kind with me. I remember one day in my 1st year when I forgot to fill up my gas tank and stopped in Chatsworth, knowing that I could not make it up to the research station. And gas pumps are not very common in the Pine Barrens. It happens that one of our grower give me a call when I was in Chatsworth. He immediately proposed to come to help me with a jerrycan! It is a nice feeling to know that you are working with great professionals but also people that will not hesitate to help you when needed.

*Photos courtesy of Thierry Besançon.

ACGA Winter Meeting 2021

This week the American Cranberry Growers Association once again held its annual winter meeting. The ACGA winter meeting is always a good opportunity for growers to listen to research findings from experiments during the previous growing season and the researchers’ recommendations for the 2021 growing season.

Usually it’s also a great chance for the local cranberry community to catch up to each other after the busy harvest season, but this week’s meeting, like so many over the past few months, needed to be held virtually. However, this also meant that in addition to our own researchers we were able to chat with Michelle Hogan from the Cranberry Marketing Committee (CMC) and Bill Frantz from the Cranberry Institute (CI) as well as researchers from other growing areas like Shawn Steffan from the University of Wisconsin.

Bill Haines, Bryan vonHahmann, and Mike Haines were the only three team members in attendance from Pine Island this time, as we wanted to keep some of our focus on sanding before we freeze up. “The format was tough, but that couldn’t be helped,” says Bryan. “Watching the presentations from the office was good as opposed to sitting in a meeting room. It was great to get updates on the various projects that are being worked on. And it also gave us a lot to discuss here on how we may experiment with our IPM and nutrition programs.” The main thing he missed, he said, was the lack of opportunity to talk to fellow growers.

“I thought that the presentations were well done and interesting and had a lot of substance,” Bill says. But like Bryan, he can’t wait to get back to in-person meetings. “The conversation between audience and presenter flows better in person, and you can speak with other growers on breaks to get their perspective and ideas.”

Mike Haines had a slightly different take: “I do miss seeing everyone in person; I always enjoy when all the NJ growers get together. But I gotta say I actually do like the Zoom meetings for learning purposes. It’s easier to take notes, and actually I find it easier for Q & A. I might be in the minority on that, I don’t know!” Like Bill and Bryan, he found all the talks very interesting. “Nick’s stuck out to me, because the proper nutrition of the Rutgers hybrids has been something I’ve really been working and focusing on. So that was good; I’ve had a lot of good conversations with Nick on that topic. Shawn Steffan’s presentation was really great too. They’re raising their own nematodes to use as a sort of biological insecticide. So cool! We’ve used some commercial nematodes before, but honestly I have no clue if they even worked or not. In this case, Shawn and his lab crew are raising nematodes native to that environment, so they’ve evolved to thrive there, I guess meaning they’ll be more effective. Even if we don’t end up messing around with anything like that, it was still so interesting to learn about. And that’s actually another benefit of Zoom meetings – a lot of barriers between regions have been knocked down. So we got to hear from Shawn in Wisconsin. And I’ve been able to attend various other Massachusetts and Wisconsin meetings this past year, since they’ve all been online. That’s been a really neat opportunity.”

All in all, it was another productive day for our Pine Island team as well another excellent program put together by Dr. Cesar Rodriguez-Saona. Thank you, Cesar!

Meet Our Neighbors: The Gerber Family

The New Jersey cranberry industry is small, but it is mighty. Welcome to the next installment of our occasional series about some of our fellow New Jersey cranberry growers! This week, we spoke with fourth generation grower Tom Gerber of Quoexin Cranberry Company.

1. How long has your family been in the business?

I am a fourth-generation grower. My great-grandfather was Andrew Etheridge, who was the caretaker for Joseph Wharton at his Atsion farm from 1885 until his death in 1925. As the Farm Manager, he oversaw the cranberry operations at Sandy Ridge, Deep Run, Atsion Meadows, Goshen, Iron Mill, and Ancora bogs. My grandfather Julius Gerber worked for the Evans and Wills Company managing their Friendship Bog and later in 1912 switched jobs with Garfield Alloway here at the Quoexin 1 bog in Medford. My father Paul, his brother – my uncle Ross, and myself all worked for Francis Sharpless, who was an owner partner in the former Evans and Wills company. Christine Gerber and I purchased the 1000-acre property containing 60 acres of bogs in 1997, and I am still farming here today.

2. What’s your favorite aspect of cranberry farming?

I very much enjoy meeting, socializing, and gathering with the many growers from all over North America! I am a big history buff and am especially interested in of all of the pioneer growers from the industry’s beginning. I pride myself most with my family’s drive and endurance to keep going every new year.

3. What has been your biggest challenge?

Our biggest challenge continues to be the cost of surviving these times, as well as our location in the New Jersey growing region. It’s the area where the industry began, 150 years ago. With the eastward movement of the growing area, we are the westernmost bog in the state. Being close to the Pineland towns of Medford and Marlton, we see suburban movement getting closer and closer every year. We are constantly pushing back a maturing Pinelands forest as it would love to invade the bogs. Weather is always a challenge, and have I mentioned: maple and sweet gum seedlings galore!

4. What makes your operation unique?

We are arguably one of the oldest bogs in the state, having some bogs and buildings still in use that were built about 1850 by William Braddock, who was a pioneer Medford grower. Quoexin is also a bog that Bill Haines Sr and John Lee gathered floaters from with the aid of an airboat in the early 1950s, this being a nod towards future water harvesting.

5. What’s a legendary story in your family?

My mother, Ruth Etheridge Gerber, was born and raised in Atsion Village Farm, living in the caretaker’s house of Joseph Wharton. My mom had many stories of growing up there and would tell this pinelands history to her children. One such story was about the Ryder Robbery Murder near Hampton Furnace in October of 1916. A large payroll for the Andrew Rider Hampton Bogs was the target. My mother’s Aunt Sallie and Mamie Etheridge had given the Burlington County Chief of Detectives Ellis Parker a description of suspects they saw near the Atsion store and train station hours prior to robbery murder, thus aiding in their conviction.

*Photos courtesy of Tom Gerber.

Previously: The Moore Family

Farm to table!

Every year, toward the end of the season, CEO Bill Haines goes into one of the final beds and harvests some fruit the old fashioned way for family and friends. This year, he even got a little surprise help from our friend and next door neighbor Steven Sooy.

One of the best things about the New Jersey cranberry industry is how it truly is a cooperative effort. Once Steven showed up, it took no time at all for the two of them to pick 150 pounds of cranberries for personal use!

The next step was getting the berries dried off and sorted. This was a bit of a challenge, as cold overnight temperatures meant our team had to run the sprinklers to guard against frost earlier in the week, so there was quite a lot of water on the fruit for a bog that hadn’t been flooded yet.

It took the afternoon and most of the next day, but we managed to get them dried, sorted, and put into boxes to distribute for everyone to make their holiday favorites!

And with the final load of berries for the 2020 harvest making its way to the Ocean Spray receiving station this afternoon, that’s a wrap on the prettiest season in the Pines! We are as ever, grateful to have such good friends and neighbors in the Sooy family, as well as all of the other growers who make New Jersey a true cranberry community.

Vendors: Allen’s Oil

Originally posted on January 13, 2017.

Our team is still working on sanding and all of the other usual winter tasks, so this week, we’re bringing you a quick look at one of our favorite vendors: Allen’s Oil!

Allen’s Oil keeps our irrigation systems running!

Allen’s, a fourth-generation family business in Vincentown, has been Pine Island’s diesel vendor since 2013. From their website:

In the 1940s, Harry T. Allen, Sr. and his son Harry T., Jr. started to deliver home heating oil along with coal. In 1964, the business was passed along to Harry, Jr. In 1977, Harry’s sons, Ronald L. Allen and Roger P. Allen, purchased the company where Ronald served as the third generation company president while his brother, Roger, was vice president.

With Ronald’s dedication, the business continued to grow. In 1991, Ronald decided to add a full-service propane division, at which time the name went from Allen’s Oil to Allen’s Oil and Propane, Inc. As the propane division grew, it was time to expand. In 1994, the Hammonton, NJ office and storage facility was opened with the ability to store 205,000 gallons of propane. Since that time, Allen’s has opened two more storage facilities: one in Elmer, NJ (2005) which has 108,000 gallons of propane storage and another in Southampton, NJ (2008) which has 120,000 gallons of storage.

In June 2001, Ronald purchased Roger’s share of the company. Keeping with the family tradition, Ronald now runs the company with his wife, Sandra, and their two sons Douglas and Jason. As of today, Allen’s Oil & Propane Inc. has a customer base of over 10,000 customers and continues to grow every day.

“I came in to meet with Bill,” says owner Ron Allen, “and he was completely straight with me. I asked him what he was paying, told him what I could offer, and he said, it’s a deal.” It’s a tough business to be in these days, Ron says, but “it takes people from both sides to make it work, and Pine Island is always there to support us.”

And we’re glad to support them, according to CEO Bill Haines: “Allen’s Oil is the kind of vendor we like,” he says. “They’re totally dependable and totally reliable. Which means that we not only don’t have to worry about whether they’re going to be here and do what they say, we don’t even have to think about it; we can just count on it.”

ACGA Summer Field Day 2020

This week the American Cranberry Growers Association (ACGA) held its annual summer meeting to hear updates from the Rutgers P.E. Marucci Center on current projects. Normally field day is a chance to go out and explore the researchers’ valuable work first hand, but this year, things were a little different.

“Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this year we could not have our regular in-person meeting,” says Dr. Cesar Rodriguez-Saona. “Instead, the meeting was held virtually, and the agenda had a ‘hybrid’ format with scientists from the Marucci Center and USDA-ARS presenting updates on their work during the first hour and a Q&A session during the second hour.”

As a result, it was a much briefer program, but the presenters were able to convey a lot of information in that short amount of time. First the growers heard from Dr. Peter Oudemans about his ongoing research on methods for managing fruit quality and disease control, as well as the potential of using honeybees to protect cranberries against diseases. Dr. James Polashock provided an update on his research to develop resistance against fruit rot, while director Dr. Nicholi Vorsa discussed a condition of cranberries he calls “crunchy vines” and its potential causes and remedies. Cesar, of course, discussed insect pest priorities as well as future Entomology research projects. Finally, Baylee Carr (representing Dr. Thierry Besançon’s program) provided an update on current strategies for Carolina redroot and moss control.

One of the biggest draws of the ACGA meetings, besides research updates, is the opportunity to catch up with fellow growers. This made the Q&A section of the meeting especially lively. “Despite having to move online, it was still a worthwhile and educational meeting for the growers,” says ACGA president Shawn Cutts. “Hearing updates on the latest research as well as having the opportunity to discuss late season issues during the Q&A was valuable.”

“Although we missed not having the regular in-person interactions and field tours typical of our summer meetings, the virtual meeting was well attended and highlighted the importance of continued communication and exchange of information between researchers and growers,” Cesar says.

“I missed visiting the Rutgers bogs but I thought it was a really good meeting,” says Pine Island CEO Bill Haines. “The presentations were clear and concise and the discussion and questions after were excellent.”

The ACGA board also thanks Lindsay Wells-Hansen for her help setting up the virtual meeting, and is, as always, hugely grateful to Cesar for organizing yet another successful gathering!

Meet Our Neighbors: The Moore Family

The New Jersey cranberry industry is small, but it is mighty. Welcome to the next installment of our occasional series about some of our fellow New Jersey cranberry growers! This week, we spoke with sixth generation grower Sam Moore III of Moore’s Meadow.

1. How long has your family been in the business?

Moore’s Meadow Blueberry And Cranberry Farm LLC is seven generations strong since 1829. My father Samuel R. Moore Jr. has worked on the farm since he was a child with his grandfather Aaron B. Moore. My father and mother purchased a piece of the farm officially in 1977 and took it from there and made the farm what it is today. As money allowed, my father and mother kept purchasing more and more of the farm acreage off other descendants.

2. What’s your favorite aspect of cranberry farming?

My favorite aspect of cranberry farming is the lifestyle and being in nature and the outdoors. There is nothing like being your own boss and having self discipline. Nothing is ever more special than a family working together as a team to get the job done. Farmers as a whole, related or unrelated, are one big family. When in need at the worst or best of times farmers look out and help one another.

3. What has been your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge to date is the ever changing weather pattern and climate as a whole. The weather is getting more unpredictable each year. Seems like it does nothing but rain constantly and we’re getting stronger and more fierce storms. The summers here in NJ are more hot and humid which causes cranberries to rot, scald, and not want to ripen too quick! It all works against the industry. Another challenge is a very unpredictable future in the cranberry and blueberry industry with oversupply driving the price down. Not knowing what kind of market there will be in the future for both fruits in order to sustain staying in business. Most money is spent on practices for both commodities prior to picking one berry and getting it sold.

4. What makes your operation unique?

What makes this operation unique is the longevity of the generations. Seven generations strong comprising of fifth, sixth, and seventh generations still actively farming to date. Not many farms date back to seven generations.

5. What’s a legendary story in your family?

A legendary story of Moore’s Meadow dates back to a 20,000 acre wildfire that destroyed all of Moore’s Meadow on July 12, 1954. The whole entire area was burned downed to the mineral sand and not one cranberry bog could be saved on our farm. Only one bog was saved on our cousin’s farm to the south. At the time the cranberry industry was at an all time low. So instead of replanting the bogs the ancestors went more into blueberry production letting the cranberry bogs go back to nature. It wasn’t till 1977 when my father started to renovate the old cranberry bogs one at a time: making them more modern by clearing the trees that had regrown since 1954, then grading them level and putting solid-set irrigation into them. My father and mother put a lot of sweat, tears, and elbow grease into making the farm what it is today.

Moore’s Meadow Quick Facts:

Location:

Moore’s Meadow Blueberry And Cranberry Farm LLC
126 Moore’s Meadow Road Tabernacle, N.J. 08088

Family:

5th Generation – Samuel R. Moore Jr. (73 YO)
6th Generation – Samuel R. Moore III (46 YO)
7th Generation – Samuel R. Moore IV (16 YO) and Matthew C. Moore (14 YO)

Crop Information:

Farm Acreage – 700 + Total
Highbush Blueberries – 40 Acres (Duke and Blue Crop Varieties)
Cranberry – 42 Acres home farm (Moore’s Meadow) (Early Black, Stevens, Haines Variety)
Cranberry – 28 Acres (Butterworth Bog’s) – Purchased in 1995 Separate Farm Never owned by previous family members. (Stevens and Demoranville Varieties)

*Photos courtesy of Samuel Moore III.

Previously: The Cutts Family

From Bill’s Desk: Keeping our team safe

One in an occasional series of entries from CEO Bill Haines.

On Monday, March 23, Bill addressed our team about recent world events and how Pine Island has decided to handle the pandemic in the short term.

After giving it a lot of thought, we decided the prudent thing to do was to shut down for at least a week. The management team will meet next Monday and assess what’s going on in the world, and then we’ll decide whether we’re going to work next Tuesday or not. If we decide it’s a no go, we’ll wait another week and assess.

We understand that everyone has families to take care of and bills to pay, so we’re going to make sure everyone gets their weekly paycheck.

We also understand that this is a farm and Mother Nature doesn’t wait. We need to grow the crop and we need to harvest it. We understand this is going to put us behind. Whenever we can come back to work, we’re going to do whatever it takes to catch up. If that means working dark to dark and Saturdays and Sundays, that’s what we’re going to do. We’ve never been through a pandemic but we’ve been through plenty of emergencies: in the Labor Day flood of 2012, we had 16 inches of rain in 9 hours that took out all of our reservoirs and many of our interior dams, as well as damaging irrigation systems. And we put all that back together in three weeks and started harvest right on time. So I know that my team can do that; we can do whatever it is we have to do.

I also want to remind everyone to do everything that’s been requested of them in terms of social distancing and washing their hands, etc. This is to keep everyone safe. This is not just time off; this is to keep all of us safe. Stay home, take care of yourselves, and take care of your families.

For our readers: please take care of yourselves and stay safe. We’re all in this together!

Blog anniversary – 2020

Eight years ago today, Pine Island Cranberry launched this website and started a weekly blog about the ins and outs of the New Jersey cranberry harvest, and it’s been another busy year!

Not long after our last blog anniversary post, there was a fire in the area that you might have heard about. The local community, of course, turned out in force, as they always do. We remain proud of our team and our neighbors!

Speaking of neighbors, we also launched a new occasional feature where you can meet some of our fellow New Jersey growers! So far we’ve profiled our immediate neighbors in the north (the Lees) and the south (the Sooys, and most recently, had a chance to speak with the Cutts family! This feature is now second only to harvest as a reader (and blogger) favorite, and you can look forward to more in the coming year.

The ACGA also continues to be a source of information and community for New Jersey growers as well; our team members attended meetings (along with researchers from the Marucci Center at Rutgers) in both winter and summer, as usual. In addition, this year it was Pine Island’s turn to host the annual twilight meeting.

In farming, you do what you have to do when you have to do it, and our team continued to make sure that all necessary task were completed as necssary, from prescribed burning to this year’s bog renovation plan. Winter work like sanding, installing swan string, and putting on the winter flood went smoothly, though a bit warmer than they’d like. Last spring and summer they handled taking off the water, frost, and planting, and bees, as well as getting our usual visits from Dr. Joan Davenport and taking her suggestions for plant nutrition. They also spent a considerable amount of time getting everything ready for our biggest season of all.

The annual harvest is everyone’s favorite time of year, from start to finish. Our team did some experimenting with picking methods,a nd had to make some temperature based changes. And of course, we were able to show around some supermarket buyers on the annual Ocean Spray Bog to Bottle tour!

There were also some changes at Ocean Spray that will have a big effect for New Jersey: Dan Schiffhauer retired! Fortunately, he was able to help choose his successor, and our team was very pleased to welcome Lindsay Wells-Hansen back to the area and are looking forward to getting her input during the growing season.

The Pine Island team hit some personal milestones since last March! Jorge Morales retired, while Wilfredo Pagan and Emmanuel Colon had significant work anniversaries. Our team has also gone out into the community with a presentation at Lakeside Garden Club, welcomed back Moorestown Friends for another visit, and even saw former CFO Holly Haines receive some service recognition.

Our team also continued to be good sports about the annual Thanksgiving post. (Thank you all.)

We also managed to have a little fun this year. Another new occasional feature is an addition to our Pine Island history tag: some backstory to some of our more colorful bog names!

Last but not least, Pine Island (and the NJ cranberry industry) appeared in several media articles toward the end of the year. Of course, there were some lovely photos by the Burlington County Times, and a fun feature about the weather from Joe Martucci of the Press of Atlantic City. Many of our friends and neighbors were interviewed for a piece that appeared on The Pulse. And best of all, a local fourth grade class is trying to make cranberry juice the New Jersey state beverage!

It’s been an eventful year for Pine Island Cranberry! And we’re going to keep doing what we need to do, now and in the future, to keep bringing you the high quality fruit that our industry – and New Jersey – is known for.

Meet Our Neighbors: The Cutts Family

The New Jersey cranberry industry is small, but it is mighty. Welcome to the next installment of our occasional series about some of our fellow New Jersey cranberry growers! This week, we spoke with fifth generation grower and (ACGA President) Shawn Cutts of Cutts Brothers.

1. How long has your family been in the business?

Our family has been growing cranberries since at least 1906 when we purchased bogs in Tabernacle. Currently we have bogs in Bass River, Washington, and Tabernacle. We joined the Ocean Spray Cooperative in 1948. Five generations of the family have worked on the bogs including the three generations currently in the business.

2. What’s your favorite aspect of cranberry farming?

Harvest is everyone’s favorite season of the year at the bogs. Not only is it the time when all of your hard work is realized, it is also a great time for our family to work together and for visitors and friends to come share in the experience. Of course, a sea of floating red berries on a perfect fall day is a beautiful sight that is difficult to beat.

3. What has been your biggest challenge?

There is never a shortage of challenges for cranberry growers. Weather, bugs, weeds, rot, disease, governmental issues, and market uncertainty come to mind. All take turns at the top of our list. Collectively as growers we work hard to address these issues as best we can. We are fortunate to have some of the world’s top cranberry researchers close by at the Rutgers Marucci Cranberry Research Center.

4. What makes your operation unique?

Perhaps not unique, but certainly uncommon these days is the way we work together as a family. Whenever it is harvest time or there is a big project such as planting, nearly everyone in the family pitches in to help in some way. Whether it is running a picker, driving a tractor, gathering sprinklers, or cooking meals, everyone contributes. Other family members from Tennessee, Alabama, and Texas also come for all or part of the harvest season to help out. Although we are all exhausted by the end of the day, it is gratifying to accomplish the day’s work together as a family.

5. What’s a legendary story in your family?

There are many stories. The one that stands out for me took place when I was in middle school. It was an unusually cold frost night and much of the family was away attending a funeral. My dad and grandfather were the only ones left to run the sprinklers for frost. That night it got so cold that the sprinkler heads began to ice over and stop turning. I still remember my mom bursting into my room in the middle of the night and telling me to get dressed immediately to go to the bogs. After racing out there, my mom, my younger brother, and I spent the rest of the night breaking ice off sprinklers. It seemed like it took forever for the sun to rise, but when it finally did we had succeeded in saving the crop. Much to my displeasure, there was still time to make it to school that morning.

*Photos courtesy of Shawn Cutts.

Previously: The Sooy Family