It looks like a pool of rubies.
But this “pool” is actually something that’s edible, and capitalizes on the demand for “superfruit” – antioxidants with all sorts of health benefits that are still being researched.
Michelle and Ken Newhook of Botwood started to harvest their first cranberry crop last week. Already, their product is being spoken for, from local customers to businesses like Markland Wineries in Whitbourne, noted for its gourmet berry wines and Indian Bay Frozen Foods in Deadman’s Bay. “It’s very successful,” said Michelle. “It’s been only two years of growing, on this field we just harvested. The berries are so big, and it’s just taken right off.”
She said that she and her husband are pretty optimistic about this new venture. It’s very different from Ken Newhook’s previous work experience – 28 years working at the paper shed in Botwood. However, that came to an end when AbitibiBowater closed operations and shut down the paper mill.
That threw more than 700 workers out of their jobs in the region, whether they were at the mill, or logging for the company. However, many ex-Abitibi employees managed to pursue different alternatives.
Among them was Ken, future cranberry farmer. Other Abitibi workers followed suit, as they took advantage of government programs designed to create a new industry for the central region, one that would help get aspiring farmers the training and support they needed to prepare land and plant crops in the province’s acidic soil, ideal for cranberry vines.
“Usually it’s three years before a crop, but we only planted two years ago,” Michelle said.
She said it’s been an awesome experience so far. They even decided to give local customers a crack at the berries right in their natural setting, by opening a U-Pick last week.
“The demand was there, and it was a great success, so we decided to try opening another the following week,” she said.
The cranberries were sold before they came off the bog, with three major buyers, according to Michelle.
Another real plus the Newhooks are happy about, one of those buyers is Dr. Hilary Rodrigues, owner/operator of Markland Winery. He told the Newhooks that the berries will be used to make wine and a health supplement, cranberry powder with Sedna Nutra. That product will be sold across North America and to European markets.
“l hope that we will establish a mutually beneficial partnership that will allow us to display the benefits of local collaborations through growth and prosperity,” Dr. Rodrigues said in a message to the Newhooks.