Last Saturday, Pine Island Cranberry’s own Tim Bourgeois (who also has his own operation, Gaining Ground Farms) hosted the NJ Young Farmers & Ranchers group for a harvest tour. The group, which is part of the New Jersey Farm Bureau, often tours host farms throughout the state and tries to showcase their own members’ farms for meetings.
“We try to alternate tours at different operations to give our members a look at various agriculture commodities throughout the state,” Tim says. “It helps broaden our horizons and gives us a chance to do some networking. I wanted to show the younger folks different ag options throughout the state: the different ways to raise a crop as well as the all the crops to choose from. The bonus was being able to show off the pinelands and the cranberries and the harvest season!”
After lunch at the office, the group took an in-depth behind the scenes tour led by Tim and manager Matt Giberson that included both the standard push reels as well as the harrow, gathering with the traditional elevator, the packing house, the shop, and an up-close look at one of our big side cleaners. The group also had the opportunity to walk through both a young bog as well as an established bog that hadn’t been picked yet.
They took every opportunity to ask fantastic questions, and it was a wonderful chance for our team to speak with people who understand and share many of the same triumphs and challenges!
Shannon Oiler of Norz Hill Farm (better known as Scare Farm this time of year!) and chair of the NJ YF&R thought it was “really cool” to see the entire operation. “One of the things that Tim mentioned that correlated to what we often tell people at our farm is you guys need 10 acres of trees for every one acre of bog. Being that we were a dairy farm and now agritourism, people still ask about cows. Rule of thumb for cows was one acre for one cow. I also loved learning about all the advancements with cranberries. And the new technology that could go to Matt’s phone so now you can check the bogs more efficiently. It was so amazing seeing everything.”
Debbie Pribell of Birds and Bees Farm in Columbus and NJFB membership coordinator says, “I really enjoyed learning about the plant life, and the refurbishing of new bogs after being in production for 100 years. The new technology in agriculture sure does make farming much easier than our grandparents!”
Jennifer Wilson told us she enjoyed seeing the cranberries in different production stages and expressed the same feeling that some of us here still have: “I felt a little guilty walking on someone else’s crop, especially when I saw the workers raking up berries that missed the truck. Every berry counts! I was amazed by the complex network of canals involved in an otherwise a fairly simple production system. Cranberries are surprisingly high maintenance. I knew that growers took measures to monitor frost, often through the night, but I was surprised to learn how often frost watch occurs. Clearly, there is no off season for cranberry growers!”
Jenny Carleo of the Cape May County Extension Office shared some lovely photos with us [which we will share with you all when our server is back online!] and enjoyed seeing the entire harvest process from start to finish.
“Everyone in the group as well as their guests enjoyed themselves thoroughly,” Tim says. So did the Pine Island team! It’s always great to speak with a group who are truly interested in all the nuts and bolts of an operation and who love working in this beautiful state as much as we do! Thanks for coming to visit with us, and we hope to see you again!