Located near the center of the island, Milestone Bog is the heart of cranberry farming on Nantucket. For the past 150 years, commercial cranberry growing has been an important element of Nantucket’s agricultural heritage. Visitors, summer residents, and even long time islanders are often surprised when they learn that the Foundation’s Milestone Bog is the oldest and largest, continually operated farm on the Island. While the primary focus of this property is the cultivation of cranberries, the bog is also surrounded by the rolling hills, grasslands and fresh water ponds of the Middle Moors. With less than 1/3 of the property’s total acreage devoted to cranberries, the remaining land remains open space and an important habitat area for deer, red tailed hawks and a wide variety of rare plants.
From Town: At the Rotary, head east on Milestone Road toward ‘Sconset. Go past the turn off for Tom Nevers. At 4.2 miles from the Rotary there will be a brown rock on the left hand side of the road with the number “220” on it which marks the entrance.
Cranberry farming began on Nantucket in 1857 with the formation of the Milestone bog. In fact, a one point in its history, Milestone had 234 acres under cultivation making it the largest contiguous bog in the world! (Improved irrigation techniques broke up the one, large bog into a series of smaller and more manageable and efficient bogs). The property changed owners many times in its early years until this bog, and over 700 acres of surrounding undeveloped land, were purchased by Roy Larsen, Walter Beinecke, Jr., and Arthur Dean in 1968. They then donated it to the Nantucket Conservation Foundation with the intent that it be used as an income-producing asset for the Foundation’s land acquisition efforts.
There are currently 24 separate bogs comprising 195 acres under cultivation at the Milestone Bog. Several varieties of cranberries are grown at the Milestone Bog including Early Black (early-season, small, dark red fruit), Stevens (mid-season, large, red fruit), and Howes (late-season, small, red fruit). While, like all agricultural products, harvest sizes vary from year the Milestone bog can produce as many as 2 million pounds of berries. The vast majority of these berries are “wet picked” and sent off to market to be used as frozen concentrate for juices, sauces or relishes. Cranberries from the Milestone Bog may be found in local stores under the “Nantucket Cranberries” brand and may also be purchased at the Foundation offices during harvest season.
In 1951, Nantucket native Tom Larrabee got a job with the Nantucket Cranberries, Inc. as a field hand. Despite the hard work and long hours, Tom was immediately captured by the beauty of the area and the intricacies involved in tending the land. For 15 years he worked, studied and learned about the various components and difficulties involved in a large agricultural operation on an island 24 miles out to sea. By 1979, he was named bog manager for the Nantucket Conservation Foundation. In 2009, Tom celebrated his 50th year at the bogs with his son Tom, Jr. having worked side by side with him for six years. Today, the Milestone Bog is managed by Nick Larrabee, Tom Jr.'s son and Tom Sr.'s grandson as the third generation.
Tabitha T. Krauthoff in memory of her father, Paul N. Turner
H. Jerome Ayers, Abby A. Ayers, and Alicia Heller
Roy E. Larsen
Mr. & Mrs. Timothy King Mr. & Mrs. J. Seward Johnson, Jr.
Mr. & Mrs. Lawrence Richardson, Jr.
Mrs. Burr P. Wilson
Leeds Mitchell, Jr.
A purchase by NCF made possible by a gift from Mrs. Alfred S. Mills given in loving memory of her husband
Open Land Fund, Inc.
Lester R. Giegerich, Marsha G. Torkelson, and Brenda K. Giegerich
Margaret Z. Larsen
Purchased by NCF and gifts of Tabitha T. Krauthoff and Louis C. Krauthoff II
A purchase by NCF made possible in part by a bequest from Scott Maclain
Mr. & Mrs. Lester R. Giegerich, Marsha G. Torkelson, and Brenda K. Giegerich
Purchased by NCF and a gift of Conantum Trust
Maria Mitchell Association
Walter Beinecke, Jr., The Larsen Fund, and the Nantucket Ornithological Association
Albert M. Lewis in memory of Charles Lewis
Mr. & Mrs. Alton E. Peters in memory of Judge Joseph Rosch Howard M. Jelleme, Lydle L. Rickard, John J. Shugrue, and Richard
Nantucket Beach Properties, Inc.
Purchased by NCF with funds received from the Nantucket Green Fund, the Estate of Esther U. Gibbs, the Nantucket Garden Club, the Nantucket High School Class of 1998, the Allegheny Foundation, and an anonymous island resident
Dr. David B. Voorhees