Windswept Cranberry Bog

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The Windswept Cranberry Bog was constructed in the 1900′s, operated for decades as an independent commercial bog and purchased by the Foundation in 1980. This property, off of  Polpis Road, contains 241 acres of protected land, including approximately 37 acres of organically certified cranberry bogs. This unique property also includes meadows, marshes, ponds and hardwood forests.

In 2001 the Foundation’s Board of Trustees decided to convert the Windswept Bog from a traditionally grown bog into an organically cultivated operation.  It took two years to complete the transition and in 2003 Windswept achieved its distinction of being one of the few organically certified bogs on the East coast.  Today, the 13 bogs under cultivation produce nearly 180,000 pounds of organic Early Black (small and dark red when ripe) and Howes (larger, oblong and medium red when ripe) varieties.  The majority of these cranberries are dry picked to be sold as fresh fruit.

As the demand for more organically grown produce increases, so do our efforts to increase the production of organic cranberries at the Windswept bogs. Local grocers, notably Bartlett’s Ocean View Farm, are now carrying both types of Foundation berries. Strict guidelines and growing procedures issued by government agencies make the organic cranberries more expensive to grow but potentially higher prices and kinder agricultural practices justify the additional emphasis on organics.

Directions

From the Rotary, follow Milestone Road approximately ¼ mile to the Polpis Road.  Follow Polpis Road approximately 6 miles (just after the Wauwinet turnoff) and turn right into the Windswept parking area.  It is located directly across from #300 Polpis Road.  There is a large parking lot with an information kiosk.  A handbook detailing the area’s habitats is available from the NCF offices; the kiosk has trail guides. There are no public rest rooms or facilities.

Hidden in the southern portion of this property is a large wetland system that includes Stump Pond, which was created during the construction of the cranberry bog. Trails around Stump Pond wind through groves of Sassafras and Tupelo and visitors are likely to see abundant waterfowl on the pond. Once a red maple swamp, a dike built at the turn of the century flooded the area so that it could be used as a water source for the cranberry growing operation. When water is needed, it is released through flumes and travels through a network of ditches to the cranberry bogs, where it irrigates the cranberry vines or floods the bogs. The bogs are flooded at different times of the year to facilitate the harvest of berries in the fall, protect the plants from harsh winter weather, and occasionally to reduce pest populations.

Also located in this area are a number of the island’s “hidden forests.” These forested wetlands lie in pockets created by the surrounding hills. The tops of the 30 to 40 foot-high trees located in these habitats have been shaped by the strong winds that characterize Nantucket, making them somewhat “hidden” when viewed from a distance.

Bees

Honeybees are used to pollinate cranberry crops and are, in fact, more valuable in the performance of this task than they are in the production of honey.  The bees are brought in from off-island in the months of June and July – please take extra precaution if you are visiting the bogs during this time!

The purchase of the Windswept Cranberry Bog was made possible in part by a bequest from Eleanor Ham

Gifts from:
James H. Evans
Mrs. Lee S. Holmes
Day Family Trust
An anonymous gift subject to reserved life estates

Bargain sale from:
Rosemary Hall Evans