Holiday Harvest

The Medium is feeling thankful for New Jersey’s burgeoning local food movement!
By Thot Joplin

The Thanksgiving season has people all across the nation giving thanks for cranberries! New Jersey has a long history of growing these small, round, sour fruits. Cranberries have been a symbol of the Garden State’s agricultural prowess since the 1840’s, when cranberry bogs dominated the landscape. Today’s cultivated acreage of soggy, fruitful bog is sadly just a third of what it was back in those golden cranberry years. In the spirit of the season, The Medium sat down with Marth Giovanelli and Lucius Voegle, two entrepreneurs attempting to turn the tides on one of Jersey’s oldest fruit industries. This grassroots movement envisions a future where the cranberry takes back its rightful seat as a cool, accessible crop spearheading the state’s growing local food scene.

Medium: Hi guys, thanks for coming out! I understand your company is attempting to bring cranberries back to New Jersey’s economy in a big way. Can you tell me a little bit about what you’re doing to support local agriculture?

LV: No problem. We decided to reinvigorate the cranberry biz last January, when my great uncle, who was once a cranberry farmer himself, was hospitalized again for chronic spinal pain. All those years of bending over to pick up the cranberries did a real number on his back, and there’s no way in hell I’m going to let his suffering go to waste. I think of it as supporting the family business. I owe it to my forefathers to keep this industry alive. We’re taking back the ancestral land that suburban office parks stole from my ancestors.

MG: What we’re actually attempting to do is reclaim abandoned impervious surfaces for use as cranberry bogs. So much of this great state’s land is covered by asphalt, and the amount of runoff is staggering! By repurposing lots, we’re restoring balance to the local water table, while promoting the cultivation of a heritage crop that’s packed with vitamin C!

Medium: So, you’re using old parking lots to grow cranberries? That’s super cool! What’s the process like for establishing a new bog?

MG: We try to choose sites that will be accessible to cranberry enthusiasts while remaining nondisruptive to existing businesses. We want to coexist with our local communities to the extent that it’s possible, while also making it abundantly clear that this is not a passive endeavor. Our goal is to reclaim land that’s always belonged to the cranberry trade, and we won’t stop building bogs until our birthright is restored.

LV: That’s for goddamn sure. These office park pigs say New Jersey is supported by an “information economy” or something, but they’re actually just taking up space that belongs to my cranberry-growing fellows with their ugly buildings and corporate audacity. We usually scope out a lot around 4 days in advance, and then deploy our anonymous forces after dark. They plug the storm drains and flood the lot, then a second squadron goes in to do the planting. We’re in and out real quick, within two hours. When those colonizing fucks show up for work the next day, there’s nowhere to put their dumb desk-jockey cars! Parking lots full of cranberries are a real bitch to drain, believe you me. By the time those idiots know what hit them, our hearty berries have taken root.

Unfortunately, our time with the young entrepreneurs was cut short after Voegle’s brief outburst. His business partner quickly hustled him out of the room, whispering something about keeping up appearances. Since the time of publishing, The Medium has been informed of a warrant for the arrest of 6-8 “ecoterrorists” assumed responsible for $14M of damage and the flooding of three large parking lots in the Flemington area.

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