TRENTON — Crimson red, fat and round, cranberries on the stem soften this time of year and gain a touch of sweetness from being so ripe. Cooked into breads, preserved as relish and simmered into sauces, they make a sweet and tart compliment to any holiday meal.
In a field the size of a football field off the Bayside Road in Trenton, Leslie Edwards and Michael Fillmore are ankle deep in cultivated cranberries. The lush berries lie within a spongy carpet of moss. The moss is soft and bright green against the burnished brown leaves of the cranberry plants.
The thriving bog is one part of the story of Snugglemagic Farm, Edwards’ and Fillmore’s Trenton homestead. On their 30-acre piece, the couple are raising alpacas, friendly animals known for their silky, natural fleece. The farm also is home to a number of playful goats.
The cranberry bog was installed eight or 10 years ago by the previous property owners. It dips several feet down from the surrounding ground, and was equipped with irrigation. After a couple of years, however, the bog became idle and maintenance fell off. When Fillmore first walked the property, he didn’t spot any cranberries in the bog at all.
“When we saw it, it was completely overgrown with weeds. There were wildflowers, bushes, baby pine trees just growing up everywhere,” Edwards said.
Just a couple of seasons of attention have worked wonders on the field. A bush hog hooked to the back of a tractor has made short work of all the fledgling trees. Beneath all the weeds, bountiful moss has helped keep the cranberry plants moist over the years.
“It was just so overgrown, it really just needed a little bit of love, to get out there and make it happen again,” Edwards said. “They are only supposed to flourish every other year, but we have had two fabulous seasons of cranberries And this is just the beginning, I believe.”
This fall, the couple opened their land for cranberry picking. Trips to the farm come with the bonus of visiting with the alpacas and goats, who are great friends of children and warm and good with all people. Hot cranberry-apple cider and warm cranberry banana bread help take off the fall chill.
For this week’s holiday, Snugglemagic farm donated 50 pints of their homemade cranberry sauce to the annual Trenton community Thanksgiving dinner. The event was held at the Trenton Elementary School.
“A lot of the kids who go there have come to the farm, so it is really kind of nice,” Edwards said. “We’ve been given so much on the farm, we’ve got to give it back to the community if we can.”
Snugglemagic Farm will be open throughout the winter for ice skating and farm visits. And next year, come fall, the bog will again be opened for pick-your-own berries.
Edwards and Fillmore are eager to share their bounty with neighbors, families and friends. Information on hours and events can be found on their Facebook page.
Cranberry Banana Bread
1 cup fresh cranberries cut in halves
1 ¾ c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 c. vegetable oil
¼ c. plain yogurt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt
2 pinches of cinnamon
Combine all wet ingredients in a bowl. Mix and set aside. Mix remaining ingredients together then pour into wet. Mix 25 strokes, then pop it in a loaf pan and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Enjoy!
Candied Cranberry Sauce
4 cups cranberries
2 c. sugar
1 c. water
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
Mix all in a large saucepan. Bring to a slight boil and cover. Cook very low and slow for 15 minutes without removing cover.
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