A Berry Colorful Tradition

Cranberry farmers are biased of course. But, you can see why when they say theirs is the prettiest harvest there is, reports CBS News Correspondent Harry Smith for Travels With Harry.

"The bog isn't flooded most of the year," says farmer Jim Jenkins. "But when we harvest it, we put a flood on it. Covers the whole thing."

Harvesting the cranberries. (CBS)

Jim Jenkins and his son, Fred, were working in one of their bogs out on Cape Cod. There, they run machines that generally jostle the red fruit free from the plants, leaving behind a trail of crimson.

"This is what every cranberry grower dreams about -- loads of berries," Jim says. "I spent my whole life raising these things. And there's nothing better than to watch those beautiful red cranberries float to the surface."

Cranberries, it turns out, are even more American than apple pie. Along with blueberries and Concord grapes, they are America's only native fruits. Native Americans called them "sasinamash."

Jim Jenkin's great-grandfather. (CBS)

Old-timers used to pick the berries by hand, but with bog floods, the berries can be coralled and easily scooped out with a pump. Jim let us help with the cranberry roundup.

Jim believes that he has cranberries in his blood. It was his great-grandfather who started the family business when he returned from the Civil War.

"This is some kind of heaven," he says. "It's my heaven. It's the place where I chose to work every day, and my ancestors before me. And I don't think a day goes by where I go to a property that my father or grandfather or great-grandfather worked and don't in some small way think of them."


Jim and his grandson, Josh with their yield. (CBS)

Each ensuing generation of Jenkins has worked hard to preserve the family legacy. The businss has grown and prospered. Now, Jim's grandson Joel helps with the harvest.

For Jim, it's a dream come true to see another Jenkins up to his elbows in cranberries. It's why, for Jim Jenkins, everyday on the cranberry farm is Thanksgiving Day.

"Mother Nature's red jewels" is what Jim Jenkins calls his cranberries. And while the ruby tone is a sight indeed, it's hard work and family tradition that make this harvest so rich.

Reported By Harry Smith
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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