Exploring the Northwoods, one bog at a time

Exploring the Northwoods, one bog at a time


A major theme of the Vanguard year is exploring the context or cultures that we live in.  This fall/winter the focus is on the Northwoods (rural Northern Wisconsin). As Vanguards make this place their temporary home, they will be intentionally exploring the make up of the larger community.  This has included attending local churches, visiting local industries, and seeking to gain a better understanding of the people who make the Northwoods home.

This past Saturday, we had the opportunity to visit James Lake Organic Cranberry Farm in Three Lakes.  The James Lake Bog has been an active cranberry farm since 1950 and has been locally owned an operated as a organic cranberry farm since 2006.  James Lake farm is one of 5 Organic Cranberry farms in Wisconsin! (There are over 250 conventional cranberry farms in Wisconsin and Wisconsin is the largest producer of Cranberries in the United States)

Vanguards were able to get a tour of the farm as well as its packaging plant where they work with a variety of distributers to sell their berries.  While we were there, the farmers were in the middle of harvest season working hard to beat the winter freeze that typically arrives in early November.  James Lake is one of the only cranberry farms in the area that packages its own fruit so Vanguards got the amazing opportunity to watch Cranberries go from the bog to labeled bags for sale. IMG_1142

One of the highlights from the tour was watching Cranberries come off the conveyer belts and being sorted by 70 year old machinery on one side of the building and then passed onto state of the art (think lasers) quality control machines before going into the packaging stage.  It was quite a contrast.


Our tour guide Ben showing us the packaging machine

The tour wrapped up with us getting time to hear from the owner, John about how he got into Cranberries/farming as well as more information about Cranberries, farming in this climate and the challenges they face in agricultural industry.

We’re very thankful for the opportunity to visit James Lake Farm and are looking forward to continuing to explore the Northwoods!

— Charlie, Vanguard Manager

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