Cranberry harvest in America's heartland
WARRENS, Wis. (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - Thanksgiving week conjures up many images of the seasonal transition from autumn to winter, like shorter days, early snow and fall hues.
The Thanksgiving meal is usually made up of hearty comfort foods we enjoy year after year. In light of the upcoming holiday, “Spotlight on America” takes you to Warrens, Wisconsin in celebration of 100 years of cranberry harvests. We’ll learn just how the delicious tart fruit ends up on our families' tables.
Amber Schultz says she is full of pride that she's doing the same job her great, great-grandfather did 100 years ago. They started with 11 acres in 1918 and today her family farms more than 230 acres. Amber's mother, Shelly, says the cranberries have been integral to their lives for five generations.
“We keep coming back. There’s a draw here. There’s a magnet that brings us back to this way of life,” Shelly said.
So, how do cranberries grow?
“Cranberries, contrary to popular belief, do not grow in the water,” Scott Schultz explains. “We try to keep them as dry as possible throughout the year. We find they grow a lot better when they have dry feet.”
When they're ripe, it's time to flood the beds. The cranberries then rise to the surface.
Small tractors coast on tracks, leaving a cranberry contrail of red and blue.
They call their cranberry marsh, Russell Rezin and Son.
"They are celebrating a hundred years - 100th anniversary this year - which is quite an achievement,” said Tom Lochner, the Executive Director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association.
Much has changed in that time, but when you get down to the roots of it, the Schultz family told us, it's still a family-run farm guided by the same goals that launched it a century ago.
The work is long, but the rewards are many.
I love the way we work together. It’s a family operation," Shelly Schultz said.
They say at the heart of this operation is a profound attachment to the land they work every day.
“Take care of the land you have and the land will take care of you,” Scott Schultz said.
“At harvest time, seeing all the hard work you put in throughout the entire year coming full circle, seeing the cranberries floating on top of the water like that, that's such a cool feeling,” said Amber Schultz.
As another cranberry harvest comes to an end, the Schultz family hopes to continue to produce these stunning burgundy, red and white berries for another 100 years.
Enjoy “good cheer” with your family and a very Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at “Spotlight on America.”
To check out more spectacular images from our trip to Wisconsin, click here.