The cranberry is the official state fruit of Wisconsin, yet most of us know very little about this specialty crop. To get an insider’s view of cranberry production and marketing, 25 Badger NAMA members hit the road for Warrens, Wis. – the state’s cranberry capital – on Sept. 12.
The first stop was the Wetherby Cranberry Marsh just outside of Warrens. The marsh has been open for more than 100 years and is currently operated by Jim and Nodji VanWychen and a couple of their children. Specializing in fresh fruit, Wetherby cranberries are sold online and at farmers markets throughout the fall.
Wisconsin has been the leading producer of cranberries for several years, but the state’s history with this fruit dates back much further. At the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center, NAMA members learned more about the history of the crop. They also had the chance to sample several cranberry foods and get a glimpse of future uses of the fruit.
Many cranberry growers and processors are members of the Something Special from Wisconsin™ program administered by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. On the bus ride to Warrens, Lois Federman, program director, explained how the program helps companies of all sizes market their products, especially toward today’s consumers focused on buying locally. The ride home also included cranberry education in the form of cheese and wine and a sampling of SSfW treats.