By Alexis Baran
Every October as the air gets cooler, the colours become warmer and brighter and vast lakes of ruby-red cranberries start a colourful patchwork in the farmlands of Richmond and the Fraser Valley. Despite the variety of crops BC cultivates, cranberries are one of just a few that are actually native to the land; when European explorers landed in Canada, they were traded with Aboriginal peoples and valued as an effective way to prevent scurvy. Uniquely “wet harvested” by flooding the fields they grow in, cranberries are tart treats packed with vitamin C, vitamin E, and fibre; they are a bright shake-up to many desserts, sweets, and beverages.
Cranberries are BC’s largest crop according to Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada, and most of North America can say they’ve delved into a glass of BC cranberries at some point; approximately 60% of our harvests are grown for Ocean Spray, a Massachusetts-based grower cooperative that distributes across the continent.
Cranberries in Richmond
You can experience Richmond cranberries at Maybog Farms, who received the “Minister’s Award of Excellence” from the Government of BC in 2008 for their contribution to the province’s farming industry as a long-established cranberry farming family. The May family sells their cranberries, as well as a variety of their fresh-grown produce, out of their market, The Fowl Farmer, in the autumn.
15539 Cambie Rd (Richmond)
The Richmond Nature Park is celebrating Thanksgiving with their 25th annual Cranberry Sale and are offering hands-on cranberry cooking and baking. Enjoy a nature walk to search for and learn about these unique bog berries and then learn how to make cranberry apple smoothies and cranberry white chocolate oatmeal cookies. Regiester for the cooking class and while you’re there pick up a batch of these tart, juicy treats. Proceeds from the sale will support the Richmond Nature Park Society’s environmental education programs.
Richmond Nature Park
11851 Westminster Highway (Richmond)
604.276.4300 (to register for the class, quote course #2038439)
Saturday, October 7th
Cranberries in the Fraser Valley
Each Thanksgiving weekend, the historic village of Fort Langley holds a cranberry festival. Over 150 years ago, local Aboriginal Peoples used them for food, dyes, and medicine. At the fort, cranberries would be traded to the western immigrants for HBC blankets, beads, and other items. In 1858, cranberries were actually worth more in trade than salmon.
The festival hosts a full day of cran-tastic activities; the whole family can begin with a pancake breakfast before exploring cooking demos, live entertainment, and perusing the crafts, foods, and wares of over 50 local vendors.
Fort Langley Cranberry Festival
23433 Mavis Ave
Saturday, October 7th
If you’d prefer your cranberries by the glass, the Fort Wine Co. in Langley can pour you 100% BC-grown fruit wines and dessert wines made with cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and other juicy bushels. For something a little different try their Ghost of the Bogs White Cranberry wine, made from cranberries picked during a small window of time before they turn red.
Fort Wine Co.
26151 – 84th Avenue (Langley)
Beyond: Cranberries on the Island
If you are heading over to Vancouver Island, head over to Yellow Point Cranberries, run by the Keefer family who are third-generation BC farmers. In early October, the family hosts a signature taste tour where you can try three different types of cranberries, try cranberry-filled baked goods, and partake in baking and photo contests for kids.
Yellow Point Cranberries
4532 Yellow Point Road (Ladysmith, Vancouver Island)