Ocean Spray: Tom Hayes

Some good news from Massachusetts: Ocean Spray announced this week that its Board of Directors has unanimously elected Tom Hayes as the cooperative’s next president and chief executive officer.

photo courtesy of Ocean Spray Cranberries.

From the press release:

Hayes is the former president and CEO of Tyson Foods, the largest food company in the U.S. with $40 billion in sales and 122,000 employees…

“Ocean Spray is a unique company – one that asks its leaders to speak the language of consumers, farmers, grocers, bankers, manufacturers and employees all at once. In Tom Hayes, we believe we have found a leader who can speak to all of these audiences and continue the transformation of this cooperative,” said Peter Dhillon, chairman of the Ocean Spray Board of Directors. “Tom’s expertise in supply chain management, his understanding of agriculture and the challenges faced by growers, and his decades of experience in the consumer packaged goods industry make him ideally suited to lead Ocean Spray into its second century. We are thrilled to welcome Tom on board.”

“For everyone who grew up in New England, the Ocean Spray name is not just a global brand – it’s part of our culture. The heritage of the company and its 700 farmer owners is one to be celebrated and shared across the world, and I want to ensure it is protected and positioned to grow for a long time to come,” said Hayes. “Joining Ocean Spray at such a pivotal moment, as it approaches its centennial, presents an extraordinary opportunity to look toward the future, tackle new challenges, and ensure that this cooperative will succeed for another hundred years.”

A native of southern New Hampshire, Hayes earned a BA from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from Northwestern University. Prior to leading Tyson, Hayes was the Chief Supply Chain Officer at Hillshire Brands and Sara Lee. He has also held significant leadership roles at US Foods, ConAgra, and Kraft. Most recently, Hayes served as a partner at Entrepreneurial Equity Partners (e2p), a private equity firm that invests in middle market companies in the food industry.

Pine Island CEO Bill Haines was a member of the Board’s search committee and is very happy with the decision: “As a farmer-owner, I’m really excited to have Tom Hayes come on board to lead Ocean Spray,” he says. “The team has done a great job through the crisis of the last four months, and we’re looking forward to even bigger and better things now that Tom is on board. I think that he’s exactly the kind of leader that our farmer cooperative needs.”

Welcome to the co-op, Tom!

*Photo courtesy of Ocean Spray.

Welcome to Lindsay Wells-Hansen!

Ocean Spray scientist Dan Schiffhauer retired at the end of 2019, and the cranberry community is very pleased to welcome his successor, Lindsay Wells-Hansen! Lindsey, a south Jersey native who earned her undergrad degree at Temple University, comes back home to us from the cranberry community in Wisconsin (where she earned her Ph.D at the University of Wisconsin) and we’re very happy to have her. She’s been making the rounds to meet all of the local growers, and this week was able to sit down at Pine Island with Bill Haines, Mike Haines, and Bryan vonHahmann to talk about our needs for the growing season.

“I think what I’m enjoying most so far about being back in New Jersey is being so close to family again,” Lindsay says. “My husband and I certainly miss our friends and family in Wisconsin, but having the opportunity to be near my side of the family while working in a field that I love is really special. I’m also super excited to be back in the Pine Barrens; I’m a true ‘piney’ at heart, and I absolutely love hiking in and exploring the unique landscape that the Pine Barrens have to offer. Oh, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying the much milder winter temperatures again!”

There are also some regional differences beyond climate! “Although my position here is similar in many ways to the one I held before, I’m experiencing the ‘usual’ challenges that come along with any career change,” Lindsay says. “Establishing new relationships with growers and other colleagues, determining the trajectory of my extension and research programs here, et cetera. One of the cool things about cranberries is that they’re grown a little bit differently in every growing region. While I’m generally familiar with the growing practices here in New Jersey, I’m more familiar with the practices in Wisconsin, so one challenge is going to be learning all of the ins-and-outs of cranberry growing in NJ. Growers have figured out what works best for them on their farm, and it’s always fun to learn why things are done a certain way on one farm or in one growing region but not another. These are all great challenges to have, and I’m very excited to get to know each of the growers, to learn from them, and to better understand their needs so that I can be as helpful as possible in the coming years.”

Linsday was also able to attend ACGA winter meeting last week, and found it enormously helpful. “Not only is the meeting a great opportunity to hear a summary of results from all of the research that was conducted over the past growing season(s), but it also provides a wonderful venue for getting to know growers better. I was pleasantly surprised at how well-attended the meeting was, and being there gave me the opportunity to meet growers that I hadn’t met before and to talk further with those that I had met. The NJ cranberry growers seem to be a very tight-knit group, and everyone has been extremely welcoming so far, which means so much to me and is certainly making the transition into my new role easier.”

One of her favorite aspects of this job is that she gets to be in the field working with growers on a daily basis in an effort to help them produce the best crop possible. “I’m really looking forward to establishing closer relationships with the growers and to getting out in the field again soon once the water comes off! I’m also very much looking forward to working closely with the researchers at Rutgers on some exciting research projects.”

Harvest time is a popular time of year for visitors, but for people who work in the industry, there’s something of interest all year round. Lindsay’s favorite time of year is during bloom: “There’s just something really serene about kneeling in the middle of a cranberry bed that’s in full bloom listening to the constant buzz of thousands of pollinators while watching them work the flowers (unless, of course, you run into some angry bees… then it’s anything but serene!). It’s an exciting time knowing that berries are soon to follow!”

On our part, Pine Island Cranberry is very happy to have a Jersey girl come back home. “We’re really excited to have Lindsay in New Jersey,” says Bill Haines. “We know that she did a great job in Wisconsin, and we’re looking forward to working with her here.”

Dan is retiring!

Dan Schiffhauer of Ocean Spray is retiring, and the New Jersey cranberry community is certainly going to miss him!

Dan was here as the contact for the growers for Ocean Spray and did whatever was needed to assist us with the crop. When he first came on board he was the point man for getting every Ocean Spray grower to use Integrated Pest Management and helped develop that program for all of us. He was available to deal with any horticultural issue, whether it was fertilizer, disease, insects, water management . . . if it had to do with cranberries, he was there as a consultant. His hard work and dedication made a tremendous difference in how we manage our crops.

Thierry Besançon, Rutgers University:

Dan is the guy here at the station who took a lot of his time to teach me about cranberry, not only the plant, but also the pests, the weeds, and all the complexity of cranberry management. He’s a very enthusiastic pedagogue, a mine of knowledge, and a great supporter of our Weed Science Research program! I’m glad that he’ll still be around because I still have plenty of questions on cranberry for him!

Steve Lee IV, Lee Brothers:

Dan is and will always be part of our family and we are eternally grateful for his tireless efforts in contributing to our success. We are thankful and appreciative of Laura, Sam and Maura for their personal family sacrifices made in support of Dan’s work over 29-plus years.

Peter Oudemans, Rutgers University:

Dan Schiffhauer is one of the most energetically creative people working in cranberries today . . . I can’t believe he thinks it is OK to retire!

Jeremy Fenstermaker, Pine Island Cranberry:

I am glad to have had the opportunity to get to know him professionally and personally. He was always available when needed and spoke from experience when called upon. He always had the growers best interest in mind. Now I hope he enjoys his retirement and shares where he is catching the big fish!

Shawn Cutts, ACGA President:

It is hard to overstate how much we will all miss Dan as he retires. Through his hard work, expertise, and willingness to attack any problem, he has been a tremendous resource in helping us growers to be our best. His friendship has been a blessing to everyone in the NJ cranberry community. We wish him all the best in retirement!

Bill Haines, Pine Island Cranberry:

Dan’s smart, he’s funny, and he always worked hard for the growers. The two biggest compliments I can pay Dan are that he was always there when you needed him, and in his 30-plus years here, he made a difference.

#WinThanksgiving – thanks, Ocean Spray!

This entry was originally posted on November 27, 2013 with the title “Happy Thanksgiving!”

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? [Ed. note, 11-15-2019: this recipe has been updated since this post was originally published, and the recipe now contains Craisins! We’re leaving the recipe as-is on our site, but please visit the updated link for this recipe and many more!]

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 butter
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 2019

Harvest time also 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 fifth visit, as well as Jeremy Mitchell (also from Advantage) for his second visit and Michael Janeway (Category Manager Beverage/Juice) and Stephen Fox (Category Manager Dried Fruit) from Wakefern.

CEO Bill Haines met the group upon their arrival and walked them through a brief history of the farm and some of the changes we’ve made recently, and then it was off to see our harvest crew hard at work!

We’re taking things a little slow this week as we wait for the color, so the group wasn’t able to see the harrow in action, but they did see a crew on the reel harvesters and watched from the top of the bogside cleaner as the gathering crew finished one bed and sent the truck up the road to the receiving station. They also got to see our latest renovation at different growth stages, as well as a brief discussion about our forestry project and the quail initiative.

“Even though this was my fifth trip, I always learn something new or different,” says Greg McCann. “When Bill was explaining how you renovate the bogs, and the order the plants are in, I found that quite interesting, as you now have more tech in the cranberry harvesting process! I also never realized that you had your own sand pit, for lack of a better term, and how you mine the sand and moved it around the property.”

“The annual fall pilgrimage to visit the Haines Family at Pine Island remains the best part of my work calendar each and every October and this year was no different, ” George Giorno says. “We were fortunate enough this year to have Bill, Stef, and Michael as our farm tour hosts with our guests from Wakefern Food Corporation and our agency partners from Advantage Solutions. For our Wakefern guests, Michael Janeway and Stephen Fox, this was their first time experiencing the beauty of the cranberry harvest and for me, it was yet another day where I get to share the roots to the passion I hold for our cranberry business and pride it poses in our ownership. Our guests loved the farm tour and were so grateful they got to experience a cranberry harvest. As we drove home, they were already creating a list of associates for next season who they believed should attend a harvest. As an added bonus to this trip, we were also able to learn from Bill beyond the active cranberry harvest. Bill educated us about the importance of continuously renovating the older bogs to improve fruit quality and to enable more efficient drainage and harvesting methods. We visited several renovated bogs at different stages of their 3-5 year yield curves to witness the evolution of a new bog. These trips are just fascinating and such a positive learning experience – already, I can’t wait for next year’s visit!”

For our part, it continues to be 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. We’re looking forward to seeing you again!

A visit from DC

In October 2014, Pine Island had a visit from Senator Cory Booker; during that same week, our neighbors at Lee Brothers received a visit from Senator Robert Menendez. This week, a group of New Jersey cranberry growers welcomed Senator Menendez’s aide Rob Childers, who had been unable to make it the last time and has been wanting to come see us ever since!

Rob’s afternoon in cranberry country started with a video at the Lees before moving on to Pine Island, where we immediately put him to work! He was able to see both the reel harvesters and the newer Gates Harrow in action, as well as the entire gathering procedure from start to finish.

After that, he stopped by the Marucci Center for a chat with director Nick Vorsa and a tour of the greenhouses.

The final stop was a tour of the Ocean Spray receiving station.

“We would like to thank Rob on behalf of Rutgers, Ocean Spray, and the Cutts, Haines, and Lee families for making the personal effort to visit with us during cranberry harvest,” says grower Steve Lee III. “We hope the visit gave him a new perspective on the cranberry industry in the NJ Pinelands and the nationwide importance of the unique agricultural research that is conducted here.”

*Some photos provided by Steve Lee III.

Processing

The second full week of harvest is going well! Last week, manager Matt Giberson talked about how we’re testing samples before a truck goes to Ocean Spray. “If the numbers aren’t great,” he said, “we’re taking it to our own packing house and clearing it out before we send it up the road.” Here’s how that works.

Each bog is run through separately. First, the forklift crew unloads the full cranberry boxes from the trucks coming out of the field. Once the cranberries are poured into the hoppers, they pass along the belt through the blowers, which are used to partially dry the fruit and remove as many of the leaves as possible. Once the leaves are blown out, the fruit drops onto another belt and from there move up the truck elevator into the waiting trailer.

Things are a little different if our team is going straight from the bog to Chatsworth, though!

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 (whether it’s cleaned with the bogside cleaner or at our own packing house), 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!

Meet Our Neighbors: The Sooy 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 our immediate neighbors to the south: Peggy Sooy and her sons Steven and Johnny.

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

Stevie: Grandpop used to live at Stormy Hill behind where the Pine Island office is now. Otis gave him the lower track here and they moved over in ’45 or ’46. We’ve been working here ever since.

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

Stevie: I just love the whole growing season. Taking the water off, putting the risers in, bringing in the bees…

Peggy: You’re a farmer and you enjoy what you’re doing!

Stevie: Exactly. Because at the end you’re looking out there at a sea of red, then that last truck heads for the receiving station and blows the horn. I just enjoy the whole thing from beginning to end.

Peggy: You dedicate so much of your life to this and you know, it’s part of you. It’s part of your thinking process. The paperwork will kill you, though.

3. What has been your biggest challenge?

Stevie: Getting the bugs under control!

Johnny: Weather.

Stevie: Yeah, that too. Cranberry growers are always calling each other: “What temperature are you getting? This guy’s at 32 already, that guy got hail, what are you looking at?” Everything else we can control, but you can’t control the weather or the insects!

Peggy: There are a lot of ifs. Weather. Surviving the season and meeting expenses. When we had blueberries the issue was getting the help but we have great neighbors!

4. What makes your operation unique?

Peggy: It’s not only a farm, it’s a friendship, it’s family, all of us. Anything we need. What’s so unique with us, unlike a lot of growers, we’re really small. So it’s great to take care of.

Stevie: It’s a big garden in a way. We can look out the window and say “no geese, no swans, we’re okay today!”

Peggy: We have the same strength as so many other growers: we’re family owned and you can depend on your family…which is the three of us at this point!

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

Peggy: I think just how we started out and have managed to keep going, really. Art’s mother and father worked hard and managed to keep the place going. It’s a reward, being able to keep the farm up all these years. That’s our reward.

*Photos courtesy of Peggy, Steven, and Johnny Sooy.

Previously: The Lee Family

Meet Our Neighbors: The Lee Family

Last week, we celebrated seven years of bringing you our story online. This week, we thought it was time to hear directly from some of our friends in the industry. Welcome to our inaugural post in what will be an occasional series about some of our fellow New Jersey cranberry growers!

For this first post, we spoke with our longtime friends and neighbors to the north, the Lee family! Steve Lee IV, the sixth generation of the Lee family to take an active interest in his family farm, was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us.

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

The Lee Family has been farming in Speedwell since 1868. Lee Brothers, Inc. which is part of the Ocean Spray Grower-Owned Cooperative has been in continuous operation since 1949. Integrity Propagation, the cranberry industry’s first foundation-level nursery has been in operation since 2008. Currently the 5th, 6th and the 7th generations of the Lee Family are living and working on the cranberry production or greenhouse operation which encompasses Washington, Woodland and Tabernacle Townships.

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

The harvest season is by far the most special time of year for our family. When the crop is good, the harvest season can be very rewarding. When crops are not as strong as expected, harvest is more of a time to reflect on the decisions made during the past growing season and begin to create the playbook for the upcoming growing season. Either way, harvest is special because we celebrate our heritage and share it with visitors that want to experience the season and be “part of the crew”.

3. What has been your biggest challenge?

Challenges? What challenges? Keeping governmental regulations under control is by far the biggest issue. Collectively, our industry works on developing and nurturing our relationships with lawmakers to help with ever-increasing regulatory, manufacturing and horticultural challenges. Managing these relationships can sometimes be very time consuming.

4. What makes your operation unique?

For the most part, we all get along. Not all farm-families do, which could sometimes certainly be a problem. Historically, we have an outside-the-box approach to innovations that are geared towards improving overall operational efficiency and agricultural production. Many of the innovations developed here have become standard throughout the industry including but not limited to the ride-on harvester and fertilizer/spray buggy. Several members of our family have served and continue to serve in leadership positions in a variety of areas including government, associations, civic, religious, banking, and agricultural. We are also so fortunate to have enjoyed multiple generations of our family working together, and employees that have become part of our extended family. We are also very unique in having such a great relationship with our neighbors, the Haines Family.

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

As with any farm family, we have many family stories. Some of the stories involving each of the generations of the Lee and Haines families are legendary, but probably not suitable for print. We are very fortunate to be part of a cooperative that truly is a multi-generational extended family. That was most evident on Labor Day 2012, when we were hit with about 13” of rain in roughly a 6 hour period. Although it rained throughout South Jersey, the hardest hit area was right here in Chatsworth, Speedwell, Hog Wallow and Pineworth. Once word began to get our on how much rain we had, support came in the way of equipment, manpower, food and phone calls to “check on us” and offer “anything we needed”. Certainly, the outpouring of concerns and support we received was not concentrated to that day or even that instance, but it clearly demonstrates the love, passion, support, and cooperation of the cranberry industry here in New Jersey.

The Lees are fantastic neighbors and even better friends, and we’re glad to have such good people in our community!

*Photo courtesy Steve Lee IV.

Blog anniversary 2019

This weeks marks the seven year anniversary of the Pine Island Cranberry website, and as always, we’ve had quite an eventful year!

The annual harvest remains our biggest draw for readers, of course, and this year saw not only our annual visit from George Giorno and his Bog to Bottle tour, but our own visit to the Ocean Spray receiving station!

The receiving station, coincidentally, celebrated its 30th anniversary this past year, and Pine Island team members were there to celebrate with them.

Team members were also in attendance at both the ACGA summer field day and winter meeting, as well as at the Ocean Spray Annual Growers Meeting.

We also profiled several team members over the past year. Both Jeremy Fenstermaker and Ernie Waszkiewicz both celebrated milestone work anniversaries, and we also talked up newer team member Justin Ross.

The bobwhite quail project continued with another release last April.

The Haines family also had quite a year! Not only did they once again start farming the original property at the Birches, originally purchased after the Civil War by Martin L. Haines, they welcomed sixth generation member Jack Fenstermaker to the world of cranberry growing with his very first summer job. In November, they gained a brand new member of the family when Mike Haines married the lovely Daina!

Pine Island also got some media coverage, as most operations do every year around harvest time. This year, the quail project was covered locally, while the harvest was covered by both NBC 10 and Business Insider. But the seemingly unanimous favorite this year goes to this fun piece about CEO Bill Haines, accompanied by a fantastic video.

And, of course, our entire team remains proud to be members of the Ocean Spray family.

We look forward to everything the next year has in store for us, and we’re so glad you’re all here to read about it as well!