Kalmiopsis Elementary School fifth graders walk through a dry bog to see cranberries on the plants at a farm north of Port Orford. The Pilot/Submitted photo
Kalmiopsis Elementary School fifth graders recently learned everything cranberry – how they’re grown, what they taste like, what products they’re used in and where they’re shipped – on a field trip to Clearwater Cranberries, a cranberry bog outside Port Orford.
“It was an excellent experience for the kids,” fifth grade teacher Nikki Darger said. “Even though it was raining, they enjoyed it. It was good to see and experience how farmers face a lot of adversity.”
While at the bog, students watched farmers harvest the crop.
To harvest the berries, first the field is flooded. Then a water beater knocks the berries off the vine and the crop floats to the surface. Next, a boom corrals the berries and workers rake the berries onto an escalator, which transports them onto a truck.
Students also sampled products.
“Everybody got to try the cranberries and their products,” fifth grader Chloe Adamek said.
Adamek loved trying the cranberry soda, but quickly learned how tart it is.
“You get a sour face after you drink it,” she said. “It was so sour that you couldn’t hold it in your mouth too long.”
Fifth grader Clayton Sackett sampled the berries.
“I didn’t think it was too good,” Sackett said. “Kinda sour.”
They learned that berries are not a native Oregon species.
The fruit was introduced by settlers from the East Coast in the late 1800s. Cranberries are commonly grown in places such as Cape Cod.
And of course, they picked up a few random facts.
Cranberry extract is used in vitamins and supplements, the berries are shipped all over the world and – Sackett’s favorite part – when the berries are thrown, they bounce.
“We just sort of seized the moment because it was cranberry harvest time,” Darger said. “That really was our goal in taking the kids: it’s something local, and so the kids could see how food is harvested and sent to markets.”