WINKELMAN ARCHITECTURE - MAINE
fruit, basically the result of an accident. In
1816, Captain Henry Hall cleared brush from
a plot of his land near Dennis, where cranberries grew naturally. Sand blew in and covered
the low-lying vines, but instead of succumbing, Hall noticed, they grew back with vigor,
producing far more berries than he’d seen
before. No longer content to let sleepy bogs
lie, Hall and his imitators were soon perfecting the backbreaking practice of shaping their
own cranberry farms, layering sand on top of
waterlogged peat until the raised beds produced yields that supported a new business
— one invented right here in New England.
By the 1820s, intrepid Yankees were shipping
cranberries to Europe for sale.
Another cranberry first was recorded
around 1843 when a Cape Cod grower named
Eli Howes discovered a variety that still bears
his name. It marked the beginning of one of
the most recent domestications of a wild fruit.
Although there are as many as 100 varieties
now, three make up a near totality grown in
New England: Howes, which are prized for
their long storage life; Stevens, a hybrid bred
for high yield and disease-resistance; and
most of the berries at A.D. Makepeace are wet-harvested in the fall. The bogs are flooded the night
before a harvesting machine called an eggbeater arrives to swipe the berries off their stems, allowing them
to float to the surface, where they create a traffic-stopping picturesque sea of red.