Ocean Spray: From Bog to Bottle 2018

Mid-October means it’s time for one of our favorite annual traditions here at Pine Island Cranberry: a visit from George Giorno of Ocean Spray on his “Bog to Bottle” tour! George comes to see us every year, along with various account executives from some of Ocean Spray’s wholesale customers. This year, we were happy to see that George brought Greg McCann of Advantage Solutions for his fourth visit, as well as new visitors Jeremy Mitchell (also from Advantage), Danny Seijido from the Ocean Spray sales team, and Tucker Lynn and Victor DeJesso from Wakefern.

The group gathered at our main office, where they heard a brief farm history from CEO Bill Haines, and fifth generation grower Mike Haines and his sister Stefanie took everyone out to see how we do things in the pines!

We arrived at Red Road just as our team was beginning the process of gathering a freshly picked bed, and everyone got to go up onto the bog side cleaner’s platform to get a view from the top!

Then it was off for a close up look at the Gates Harrow in action before heading down the road to the Ocean Spray receiving station in Chatsworth.

These days, all the Haines family really has to provide is a driver; George’s knowledge and enthusiasm is tremendous, and he knows every single step of our harvest. “While the calendar may say fall arrives on September 21st, it really doesn’t actually arrive until our annual trip to visit the Haines Family at PICC in mid-October,” says George. “Yet another great day with Stef and Michael Haines this year, while also getting to visit with Bill upon our arrival, as we toured the farm with our guests from Wakefern Food Corporation and our agency partners from Advantage Solutions. For four of our guests, this was their first time experiencing the beauty of the Cranberry Harvest and for me, it was another day where I get to reignite the passion for my vocation and visit with a great Ocean Spray Cooperative Family who treat me as one of her own! Never a visit without learning something new from something old as PICC is continuously improving their harvesting operations in a meaningful, efficient and positive way.”

Greg McCann always has a good time, too, and never fails to ask interesting questions! “This being my fourth year of touring your bog, I learned something new, yet again,” Greg says. “With the hot weather being late this year, it really affects the color of the cranberries, as evidenced by the mix of white, pink and red colors in the Bog! Last year, they were more crimson red, at this point in October.”

We say this every year after George and his group come to see us: it’s always a pleasure to speak with people who are genuinely enthusiastic about what they do and are so willing to completely immerse themselves in a new experience. It‘s always fun to have George and his team here and show our customers how we really do things. It’s good for them, and it’s good for us. Thanks again, George, for everything you and your team do!

Green Team – 2018

We’re running all three teams this week and things have been going pretty well! Our Green team has been working steadily behind the office and the new turns for the tractor trailers have been getting a workout while our crews are hauling fruit to the Ocean Spray receiving station in Chatsworth.

The trucks are wired to a set of lights so the gathering team leader can communicate effectively from the bog side cleaner’s platform. When one section of the trailer is full, the team leader hits a button and the yellow light in the truck cab indicates that it’s time to move forward! If the driver moves up a little too far, the team leader will use the red light indicator to tell the driver to back up.)

Once the truck is full, it’s time to head down the road!

Once the driver gets to the receiving station, he drives to the scales, where he turns in the paperwork and Ocean Spray takes some initial samples.

He is assigned a pool number, then drives around back and backs up to the assigned pool.

The crew at the station then start running the equipment needed to clear the berries from the trailer and take additional samples as needed.

When the truck is empty, it’s back around to the scales to be weighed again, and off again home to pick up another load!

Ocean Spray Receiving Station – Chatsworth’s 30th Anniversary

This year, the Ocean Spray receiving station in Chatsworth celebrates its 30th anniversary, and several growers were on hand to celebrate with the hardworking station crew.

“We wanted to have a celebration of our 30th anniversary just before we start harvest number 31,” says manager Bob Garatino. Bob and his crew work all year to make sure that the approximately 49 days of cranberry harvest run as smoothly as possible, from start to finish, and they’ve been making a lot of improvements in the “off” season. “Two months out of the year, our goal is cleaning and sizing cranberries. The rest of the year, we make sure our bins are cleaned and prepared for the next season. And we also take a few actions. As you enter the property and look around, there’s a lot of new signage related to safety. Safety is paramount; nothing we do is so important and no service we provide is so urgent that we cannot perform our job safely. Quality is king; we do our best to judge fruit fairly and consistently, because we know that’s our job. We’re committed to keeping costs as low as we can; where we can do it ourselves we will. We also look started asking ourselves “what if”: if something comes up, how will we handle it?”

Bob also took the opportunity to thank the growers for their support. “[The growers] have been here to plow out three feet of snow, to give us valuable feedback and advice, sending us blueberries, educating us on the latest research, bringing us holiday cookies, or just working with us to work out bumps and bruises of the annual harvest.” He is also very proud of his Chatsworth team. “They take pride in their work every day.”

Communication with the growers and timing delivery truly is the key, says supervisor Alonza Williams. “Production varies; if everyone gathers at the same time it’s going to crank things up, but if one grower is harvesting a lower yield variety than what another grower might be doing it balances out.” The receiving station has 12 people on staff during the slower months, but by the time they’re in full swing that number grows to 29, and that’s when communication truly becomes essential: “We’ll stay in touch with growers for their start and end times and even Sundays, by request.” In addition to prepping the bins, Alonza’s getting the lab ready so growers can ring samples in to test for TAcy and firmness.

“The Chatsworth receiving station has always been a big benefit to the growers in New Jersey,” says Pine Island CEO Bill Haines. “It’s always been a pleasure to work with the crew there. Bob, Alonza, Mike, and the rest of the team have always been more than helpful, and we’re glad they’re part of the Ocean Spray team.”

Blog anniversary: 2018

This week is the six year anniversary of the Pine Island Cranberry website, and it’s certainly been an eventful year!

Our normal yearly workload proceeded much as it usually does, with our annual schedule of bog renovation, frost, planting, and sanding, as well as the yearly harvest.

We had our annual visit from Dr. Joan Davenport, and made some changes to our plant nutrition program, and dealt with the usual seasonal tasks for summer, winter, and spring.

Some team members celebrated some big work anniversaries, and everyone celebrated a couple of safety milestones by getting to go home a little early! We also welcomed two new employees this year on our Facilities and Equipment team and at the office, and are currently looking for someone to join our ICM team!

It’s been a huge year for our stewardship work with New Jersey Audubon and Pine Creek Forestry. The Northern Bobwhite Quail Initiative continues to go well, and even received some national and state recognition! We’re truly honored to be working with such great partners on such an important project.

Harvest continues to be the topic our readers are most interested in, and this year, they got to see a bit more than usual! In addition to our weekly blog posts, we received visits from both Nora Muchanic and Mike Jerrick, as well as several print publications. We’re always glad to tell people about doing what we love, and how our team does whatever it takes to make the prettiest sight in the pines happen, year after year!

Last but not least, we got to celebrate at a very special Annual Growers Meeting, which we’re planning on enjoying for quite some time.

We’re so glad you’ve continued following us from “Bog to Bottle” (as one of our favorite people at Ocean Spray likes to say) for the past six years, and we’re looking forward to keeping you updated for many years to come!

Ocean Spray AGM – 2018

This week, CEO Bill Haines and manager Mike Haines attended the Ocean Spray Annual Growers Meeting (AGM) and a good time was had by all!

…At least, by all of the Eagles fans in attendance!

In all seriousness, the Ocean Spray AGM is always fun, and a great chance to catch up with fellow growers in a lovely, relaxing setting. “It’s always awesome to have the chance to check out new products,” Mike says, “and being able to catch up with growers from other regions is invaluable. I was able to sit with with Cass [Gilmore] and Ben [Richards] and had a good talk with them about fertilizer, for instance. I told them what Jeremy [Fenstermaker] and I learned in Wisconsin, and what they’re doing up in Massachusetts sounded similar; they said they’re getting good results. Cass even sent slides from a grower meeting they had about fertilizing hybrids more heavily and more often; I’ve been thinking about that, so it’s good to see those results.”

There were some good opportunities for leisure time at the beach and dinner with other New Jersey growers, as well as some good-natured football rivalry! “I wore Eagles gear every single day and never took my hat off,” Mike says. “And Peter Dhillon [Chairman of the Board of Directors] lost a bet, so he conducted the meeting while wearing Dad’s hat!” (Bill and neighbor Steve Lee broke out the Eagles polo shirts. Subtle, but effective.)

“It was good to see growers from around the country, and think that despite the pressures facing the industry that it was a positive meeting,” Bill says. “It was great being at Marco Island, it was a great Super Bowl party, it was great to be with the growers. All in all, I think everyone came away feeling positive about Ocean Spray and positive about the future of the industry.”

*Some photos provided by John Parke and Nadine Haines.

From Bog to Bottle 2017

If it’s mid-October, that must mean it’s time for another visit from George Giorno of Ocean Spray! George comes to see us every year, along with various account executives from some of Ocean Spray’s wholesale customers. This year, we were happy to visit again with Greg McCann of Advantage Solutions, who brought along new customer development manager Julianna Lombardi, and John Aleksandrowicz and Mark McFadden of Foodtown/Allegiance Marketing. Rounding out the group were Ocean Spray sales directors Eric Sinsigalli and Brian Gormley!

The morning started at the Pine Island main office, where CEO Bill Haines gave the group a brief farm history and a quick overview of what they were about to see, and then it was off to catch the action.

We’ve only been running one crew this week, but there was plenty of opportunity to see everything going on! They got to see the older reel harvesters in action as well as the bog side cleaner, and there was even time for a quick tour of the shop and a close-up look at one of our recently planted beds before heading to the Ocean Spray receiving station in Chatsworth.

George and his group are always a highlight of our harvest season, and they always have a good time.

“I learn something new every single year,” says Greg McCann. “This year I learned that due to the warmer and drier weather this year, you are only running one crew and picking late due to the fact that the berries are not turning red as quickly as you would like. I also learned the different shades of red that are needed to make Craisins. And it was another perfect weather day, as well!”

Mark McFadden wants to come back again and try something new: “I thought Wednesday was an awesome day, and I must say, Pine Island is a very impressive operation. I am hoping next time I can go into the bogs!”

“As a long time Ocean Spray Sales Manager, I can easily say that no other experience compares to the expression on my customer’s faces than that of witnessing the magic of our cranberry harvest at PICC with the Haines family,” says George. “No matter how I prepare them for what they’re about the experience, it’s never enough and never disappoints! This year was no different as John, Mark and Juliana were all rendered speechless as we drove through the farm on what amounted to be the perfect brilliant fall day! For me, this serves as my annual cranberry charge as it reminds me how blessed I am to be both associated with such a wonderful brand and where I get to be part of a generous cooperative grower family who treat me as one of their own!”

Bill was just as happy with this year’s visit. “It was great to have the Ocean Spray team here,” he says. “George always brings an interesting group of people. We don’t do many tours, but that’s one we always enjoy. We’re happy to show our operation, our heritage, and talk to them about everything we do to protect the environment and supply quality cranberries for the market.”

Thanks again for a wonderful morning, George! We appreciate everything you, your team, and your guests do, and we look forward to seeing you next year!

From Bog to Bottle 2016

Harvest time means it’s time for our yearly visit from George Giorno of Ocean Spray! George comes to see us every year, along with various account executives from some of Ocean Spray’s wholesale customers. This year, we were happy to visit again with Greg McCann and Jim Falese of Advantage Solutions, as well as Chris Przewoznik and Ed Peslak of General Trading Wholesale, Lauren Schmidt, Jeff Bowen, and John Scarangello with Ocean Spray’s retail operations, and last but not least, George’s daughter Marissa, a sales analyst with Kellogg’s!

harvest-2016-004

harvest-2016-307

The morning began in our main office, with CEO Bill Haines giving the group an introduction to our operation and a brief family history. Then, it was off in the van to see the harvest in action! We were unfortunately not able to see the harrow at work, but the group was able to see our new bog side cleaner running out at Sim Place, and even got the chance to go up and see the view from the top!

harvest-2016-082

harvest-2016-287

Greg McCann was happy to see our new equipment, as well as the results. “I really enjoyed this visit, as I saw a new process that you weren’t really using last year! It’s great to see how you now save steps in the process and free up some of your people to do other things,” he says. And he was impressed by our team’s driving skills, as well: “It was interesting to watch the tractor trailers navigate around the narrow roads throughout the bog.” He’s looking forward to coming back again next year, with different customers, and the feeling is mutual!

harvest-2016-135

Lauren Schmidt, Ocean Spray’s newest Retail Operations Manager, expressed similar enthusiasm: “I loved the tour of the farm and bogs. Our team got the full experience, from tasting fresh cranberries off the vine, to watching each step in the impressive process of harvest. We lucked out with a beautiful fall day and the colors of the harvest were gorgeous! The Haines family took time out of their busy schedules to show us around for several hours and I know everyone felt the pride they have in the business throughout our time together.”

harvest-2016-187

We say this every year after George and his group come to see us: it’s always a pleasure to speak with people who are genuinely enthusiastic about what they do and are so willing to completely immerse themselves in a new experience. “It‘s always fun to have George and his team here and show our customers how we really do it. I think it’s good for all of us,” Bill says.

Ocean Spray AGM

Ocean Spray held their Annual Growers Meeting last week, and Pine Island Cranberry was well represented! Several members of the Haines family spent a week in Florida, learning more about the coop’s plans for the future and enjoying the Florida sunshine!

Family members in attendance were all pleased with the highly engaging presentations. “It was really cool to hear more about the marketing side. Up here, we’re entirely focused on production and don’t really worry about the marketing and selling,” says fifth-generation grower Mike Haines. “But it’s obviously just as important to the business as the actual fruit production. I really learned quite a bit from talking to some of the marketing people; Jeremy [Fenstermaker] and I had a great talk with Peter Wyman [Senior VP of Global Business Development], asking him how they get people unfamiliar with cranberries to try our products. It was fascinating!”

Mike and Jeremy were also really impressed with Aravind Cherukuri [Managing Director, Global Business Development]. “People were genuinely pumped up when he made his presentation,” Mike says. “He brought a lot of energy to the room, and I learned a lot about how Ocean Spray approaches different markets and what kind of steps we need to take.” Jeremy’s thoughts were similar: “Aravind’s enthusiasm was contagious,” he says. “It was really cool to see the expansion, and how things have changed as we move into a global market.”

Another huge hit: the opportunity to try new products being released in the next few months! We were very excited to get a close-up look for you guys. NOW: an exclusive look at what you can expect to see from Ocean Spray!

…Oh. Sorry, folks. Maybe next time!

It would be remiss of us not to thank the entire Grower Relations team for doing such a spectacular job. Cranberry growers work hard and play hard, and everyone at HQ put together some amazing events and activities to ensure we’d all have fun doing both! From charismatic speakers to touring grapefruit operations to spring baseball to unforgettable evenings in the theme parks…Ocean Spray made sure that we had an unforgettable week, and every single member of the Haines family is grateful for the opportunity!

And as always, we’ll let CEO Bill Haines get in the last word: “It was a great event, and great to meet with so many growers from all over the world. I’m excited to see the energy and the new ideas that were presented at the general sessions.”

Thanks, Ocean Spray!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This entry was originally posted on November 27, 2013.

It’s almost inevitable that a cranberry blog would do an entry about Thanksgiving! It’s a holiday which really is a chance for us here at Pine Island to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labor. (Sorry.) Many traditions in the Haines family come from cranberries, both our own and through the Ocean Spray cooperative. And best of all, they’re usually locally sauced! (Really sorry. We’ll stop now.) CEO Bill Haines goes out every year toward the end of harvest and hand scoops several pounds of berries for family use, using a wooden scoop that’s been in the family for generations.

Huge thanks to our friends at Ocean Spray for allowing us to use the following recipes and photographs, as well as posting the information showing us how these recipes are berry good for both you as well as the environment! (We said we were done. We lied. After all, cranberry farming can be a barrel of laughs.)

To start off, of course, you’ll want a cocktail. Vodka and cranberry is a popular combination, but did you know it actually has a name? To make a Cape Codder, you’ll just need the following:

Ingredients:

6 ounces Ocean Spray® Cranberry Juice Cocktail, chilled
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions:

Pour into a tall glass filled with ice. Makes 1 serving.

Of course, you can’t have a turkey without stuffing. Cape Cod Cornbread Stuffing just fits the bill:

Ingredients:

2 cups cornbread stuffing cubes
1/2 pound sausage meat, cooked, drained and crumbled
1 cup Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
1/2 cup diced onion
1/3 cup chopped pecans
2 teaspoons thyme
1/2 cup chicken broth

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Combine all ingredients, except chicken broth, in a medium casserole dish. Add chicken broth; mix well. Add more chicken broth for a moister stuffing. Cover and bake for 30 minutes or until heated through. Makes 3 cups.

The following is a classic for a reason; it pairs perfectly with a leftover turkey sandwich! (Or, as some first graders we know have done…mix it with mayo and put it on a hamburger. To each her own.)

Homemade Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 12-ounce package Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, rinsed and drained

Directions:

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil; add cranberries, return to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time.

Makes 2 1/4 cups.

This side dish doesn’t contain any cranberries, but who’s to say you couldn’t add some Craisins?

Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pecans

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds fresh brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Trim stems of brussels sprouts; remove any damaged leaves.

Place brussels sprouts in 3-quart saucepan; add water to just cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer until brussels sprouts are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain; keep warm.

In the meantime, toast pecans. Place nuts in single layer on baking sheet. Bake in 350° oven 3 to 5 minutes or until light golden brown, watching carefully.

Melt butter in same saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook and stir 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Stir in brussels sprouts and pecans; toss gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 6 servings.

Last but not least, we have dessert: a longtime family favorite is a cranberry nut pie that Bill’s mother used to make.

SARA’S CRANBERRY NUT PIE

Ingredients:

Filling:
2 cups cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar

Topping:
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup melted margarine
2 eggs
2 teaspoons almond extract

Directions:

Mix the first three ingredients together and spread in the bottom of a greased 10 in pie plate. Mix together the last five ingredients and pour over cranberry mixture. Bake 55-60 minutes in a preheated 325 degree oven. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

No photos of that last one…it usually gets eaten too quickly. Happy Thanksgiving, from all of us to all of you!

Ocean Spray: From Bog to Bottle 2015

Pine Island Cranberry was pleased to host a visit yesterday from George Giorno at Ocean Spray, who brought along his associates Greg McCann, Vinny Bergamini, and Jim Falese (from Advantage Sales and Marketing) and Alexandra Von Nessen and Steve Salerno (from Wakefern Corporation). They work closely with George and Ocean Spray on marketing and distribution, and were happy to have the opportunity to see a cranberry harvest in action!

The morning started at our main office with a brief introduction to the business from CEO Bill Haines, who then led the group out to see our hard-working crews getting the harvest in! At our first stop, Bill was able to give them a closer view of the inside of a cranberry as well as the bud set on the vines for next year’s crop.

Subsequent stops included a chance to see our Gates Harrow harvester in action, as well as our traditional gathering crew and a stop at the packing house platform.

Everyone asked some really fantastic questions and also had a wonderful time, according to Greg McCann: “The tour was very enlightening! I have been to numerous plant tours over the course of my career, but never to the origin, where the process begins. To be able to see the cranberries harvested, and even pick one off the bush, was an amazing experience! I would recommend it to any customer who is on the Juice or Fruit Buying Desk!” For our part, we truly enjoy visiting with folks who show such enthusiasm and willingness to learn! As George himself said, “…we enjoyed sharing our passion about this wonderful little berry that’s afforded us a great brand of products to share and enjoy with the entire world!”

Thanks, George…and thank you, Greg, Vinny, Jim, Alex, and Steve, for taking the time out of your day to visit!