Cranberries are in much demand as their health benefits have become known. A cranberry research station associated with the University of Washington helped make cranberry production big business here. Their little museum on Long Beach has a delightfully tasty gift shop along with the story of cranberry farming.
Most fascinating to me was how easily they grow. Shovels full of fibrous roots and stems are strewn around a field and machine disked into the ground. Vioila! Cranberry plants come up like weeds. Of course, they like a certain type of soil. I had seen pictures of cranberry harvesters waist deep in water corralling the floating cranberries to a dock where they were vacuumed up for processing. No longer the case. The bogs are not nearly so wet, nor floating necessary, thanks to the research station. They now machine harvest them much like any crop. Cranberry picking with scoops was a backbreaking job for the pickers. That is also a thing of the past. The plants are quite pretty and colorful. Sensitive to both heat and cold, they react to wide weather fluctuations. For us, they are no longer simply a Christmas treat.
For several photos click the link: http://picasaweb.google.com/1579penn/CranberryMuseum#