A Fort Langley farm is inviting the community to splash around in a lake of cranberries.
The Bog at Riverside Cranberry Farm located at 26885 88th Ave. has brought back the self-guided cranberry harvest tour for the second year.
Brian and Mandy Dewit bought the farm 11 years ago. The couple’s initial idea was to build the farm into cranberry fields.
“It took three years to have the farm all set up for harvesting and then four years before we had our very first harvest,” Brian said.
Cranberry harvesting can take anywhere between three to four years. Mid September to mid October is harvest season.
“Cranberries do not grow in water. It’s a common myth that they do and with all the harvest pics circulating out there, I guess it’s not too surprising that is what a lot of people believe. The truth is cranberries are actually really good at hiding from plain sight. They grow on low lying perennial vines and the berries are mostly well tucked within the canopy of the intertwining plants,” said Mandy.
In mid September the grower starts by bringing the water up high in the fields, using a machine to knock the fruit off the plants, adding more water to the field and then use suction pumps to pull the cranberries out of the field.
“We had a nice spring this year so our harvest is actually great, but in the summer the fields hit 55 degrees during the heat wave. That didn’t do much good for anything,” Brian added.
Typically during harvest season, growers will find three per cent of their crop can’t be used due to damage, this year 15 per cent of the Dewit’s crop was damaged from the heat.
When the couple first opened the farm doors to the public, they didn’t realize how popular cranberry harvesting would be.
“When we first realized the opportunity we had with aggro-tourism, we started out really small, we were selling some fresh fruit around Fort Langley during the festival. Then I contacted the organizer of the festival and asked if he was selling to bring people out on buses, I’ll open my farm up,” said Brian.
At first, the Dewits weren’t charging people. Buses of people were being dropped off, there were demonstrations happening and a little stand of their own product they were selling.
One year, the farm saw more than 1,000 people in one festival day which, sparked the idea of a full farm store, cranberry plunge and tours.
This year is the second year of self-guided tours which ran the duration of the harvest. Last year, the farm saw a lot of interest in the self-guided tours using QR codes.
The QR codes are set up along the harvest walk, people can scan the code and listen to audio explaining the harvest, machines and history.
At the end of the self-guided tour, people are invited to try the Cranberry Plunge. People can put on a pair of rubber boots and splash around in the lake of cranberries.
Usually, the Cranberry Plunge is done in the main harvest field but last year, the crop saw a lot of damage from being walked on, this year, there is a sectioned off portion of the field for the event.
The inside of the farm store has been re-done, with new tables, chairs, shelves and a cafe area.
The shelves are stocked with fresh, take-home treats like, cranberry juice, dried out cranberries, honey and cranberry sauce just in time for Thanksgiving.
“We don’t sell any of our items at grocery stores. We’ve partnered with places like Lepp’s Farm Market and Lee’s Market to sell some of our things,” said Brian.
Brian explained that, next year they might try selling their products at Save-On Foods.
The tours started on Sept. 17 and go until Oct. 9.
“So far, the tours have been a hit. A lot of the time slots are actually sold out,” said Brian.
People can find out more online at https://www.riversidecranberries.ca/tours. The tours typically take around one hour, but people are welcome to stay for up to two hours.