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By William Victor May
Published: 03/19/23 Topics: Agriculture, Breakwater Inn & Cottages, Grayland WA, Westport WA Comments: 0
The story of Grayland Cranberry Farming is well over a hundred years old, and the fields and berries are still a fascinating and beautiful addition to the coast of Washington State.
It was in the late 1880's, when a visitor from Massachusetts, Anthony Chabot, discovered native cranberries growing in bogs (Flooded fields) along the coast from Long Beach to Westport Washington, reminded him of Cape Cod where cultivation of the berries had been developed.
The first crop in Grayland, Washington was planted in 1912 by Ed Benn on his belief that the area's peat soil was idea for growing cranberries commercially. Some of those fields still exist all these years later.
Self Guided Cranberry Tour
To step back in time and see an agricultural phenomena little changed in over 100 years, you can take a self-guided driving tour of the cranberry fields. Proceed south from Grayland of Highway 105 then turning East inland on Cranberry Road.
Along the way you will find some of the 255 growers and their fields that are perfectly level because they are flooded regularly with water to nurture the plants.
There is even a "self-pick'" farm if you watch closely for the sign along the tour..
By 1939, the local population of industrious immigrants had laboriously built over 100 fields spread along what is now State Route 105. In that year they took time to celebrate and built the Grayland Community Hall to be the center of the small town.
You will drive right by it on the Cranberry tour. (It would be a wonderfully historic place to hold your family reunion or wedding reception.)
And for a comfortable ocean front resort, come stay at Breakwater Inn & Cottages
Just 2/10th of a mile south of the turn off to Cranberry Road, the Finnish community built a social hall that later became a dehydrating building for berries shipped oversees to servicemen.,
The goal was to keep soldier morale up during the war when stuck away from home at Thanksgiving.
In the 1950's, Julius Furford an entrepreneurial purchased the building and in 1957, invented the famous Furford picker, a unique picking machine designed to harvest the cranberry crop and prune the vines at the same time saving time and work on what was previously a labor intensive back-breaking job.
The Furford family turned their warehouse into the Grayland "Cranberry Museum" (Not to be confused with the similarly name Cranberry Museum of Long Beach located must further down the Washington Coast line.)
Ocean Spray Coopeative
Today, 99 percent of the grays in Grayland, are part of the Ocean Spray cooperative'a farmer-owned company of 700 families across North America. They grow over 220 billion berries a year.
The local Ocean Spray processing plant is 11 north of Grayland on Highway 105 at Markham, and on the road to Aberdeen Washington.
The plant does not offer tours, but another 1 miles north is the Westport Winery, Distillery and world famous Mermaid Museum.
Among their other great wines you will, of course, find Cranberry Wine made from the wonderful Grayland Fruit.
Author: William Victor May – Cranberry Connisseur, Breakwater Inn & Cottages
Blog #: 0945 – 03/19/23
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