Cranberries, woven into the fabric of North American tradition by the first settlers, are one of the few commercially grown fruits that are native to North America.
Cranberries were a staple food for many indigenous people who used them in a variety of ways. The early settlers called the fruit “crane berry” because the shape of the blossom resembles the head of a crane. Over time the fruit came to be called cranberry. Cultivation of cranberries can be traced back almost 200 years. Captain Henry Hall was the first to successfully cultivate cranberries with the first documented harvest occurring in 1816 in Dennis, Massachusetts.The history of cranberries in British Columbia is equally rich. Fort Langley established by the Hudson Bay Company on the banks of the Fraser River in 1827 was an important trading post, and in 1858 became the “home” of British Columbia. Here cranberries traded with natives were packaged into barrels each weighing 100 pounds (a measure still in use today) and shipped to San Francisco for sale. Cranberries were widely used on sailing ships to prevent scurvy.
Cranberries are grown in the lower Fraser Valley and on Vancouver Island. The BC cranberry harvest comprises about 12% of the North American crop. Cultivation in BC began in 1946 when Jack Bell, following five years as a pilot in the RCAF, became the first commercial grower of cranberries. He planted three acres.
Today 6,500 acres yielded over 1 million barrels in 2020. A barrel weighs 100 lbs. Seventy-five farm families, some 4th generation, proudly grow this versatile and healthy product for your tables. Check out our annual report to get more facts on our industry.
From field to consumer, cranberries are handled with exceptional care to ensure optimum product quality and high food safety standards for shipping throughout North America as well as to customers in international markets like Mexico, France, Germany, Australia and England.
For more information as well as recipes, resources for kids and teachers, and profiles of our growers, please explore bccranberries.com!